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MetLife -- Are boomers in the middle...of self-delusion?

Baby boomers born between 1952 and 1958 -- not getting old any time soon.  I've often thought that one end of the baby boomer age range has nothing in common with the other end.  Okay, that doesn't mean that it should be sub-divided into three groups.  But so it goes -- MetLife released its Boomers in the Middle report about the attitudes of this age range, individuals aged 52 to 58 during 2010.  They view themselves, not surprisingly, as healthy and describe 'old' as w-a-a-a-y-y-y out there in the future, when they turn 75 (oddly, age 77 for women and age 74 for men -- no doubt due to variations in life expectancy after age 50.)

Work -- what they (sort of) mostly do and expect to retire at 66.  Now here's where things get interesting: 8% work part-time, 6% are self-employed, 5% are looking for work, 7% are on disability, and 8% are fully retired.  Let's turn that around and see it for what it is:  only 60% work full time for companies! Somewhat ironically, they expect to retire at 66, although 50% plan to either take their social security benefits earlier (before they are eligible for full benefits) at age 65 or get the partial benefit at age 62. Delusionally-speaking, 69% have set the date for taking social security as exactly the same as they said it was two years ago -- despite declining value of their assets and the state of the economy, not to mention their level of employment.

What, me worry?  Here's where the delusional part really begins in earnest. Sixty-six percent of them have one or both living parents. Half of them have children still living at home. But what are they concerned with -- despite these two arguably significant future care-related issues? Twenty-five percent worry about affordability of their own health care, and only 18% of the respondants worry about remaining useful. Only 15% imagine they will want to or have to work part-time in their retirement years; only 13% of them worry about funding long-term care needs, and only 12% of them are concerned with outliving their money.

Middle boomers -- read the older boomer tea leaves. In another MetLife report from October, the real world of older boomers is explored in the pleasantly-titled Buddy Can you Spare A Job? Three-quarters of today's older boomer workers expect to work for pay after retirement, but fewer than 35% report actually making it happen.  Meanwhile, turns out that working in retirement correlates with better health. From this, we can conclude that older boomers need the money. Middle boomers will need the money too, and not just for their own health care costs. And it doesn't hurt that working can be engaging, that it provides you with a purpose, and that it keeps your mind from rotting.





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I really enjoyed reading this article - probably in large part because I am a member of the Baby Boomer Generation born between 1952 and 1958. And you are so right, old age is ALWAYS 15 years ahead of where we are - or even more :)

I am also a member of the Sandwich Generation - caring for senior parents AND grandkids. Definitely keeps me busy and active - both mind and body - and that is, indeed, a VERY good thing for a variety of reasons including staving off depression and dementia symptoms.

Thanks for a good article with good advice. :)

The MetLife study confirms what I see in my estate planning practice. Middle Boomers expect to keep working in some capacity. Retiring and moving to Florida to play golf and fish are not their goals. They want to stay involved with their family, friends, community, and church. We will see if they have the energy to do all that ten years from now. The other question is whether high cost, high tax states will drive them into "retirement".