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Boomers Retiring the Idea of Retirement

Forget the rocking chair and gold watch; the early Baby Boomers are rewriting the book on retirement. These leading-edge Boomers born between 1946 and 1955 are redefining retirement  by forgoing the tradition of a leisure-filled retirement and opting to remain in the workforce, many indefinitely, a new report says.

It’s not so much that they love working, according to a new MetLife Mature Market Institute (MMI)study on how America’s Early Baby Boomers will transform aging, work and retirement. It’s because many of them can’t afford to retire.

Many Boomers are unable to retire as anticipated, the study said, because they may be saddled with debt from putting their kids through college or borrowing against their homes. Because they expect to live longer than the generation that went before them they fear outliving their savings especially since their financial nest eggs have taken a major hit from low interest rates and a sluggish stock market. The family budget may also be under stress because one in four Boomers still have adult children living with them.

“This group of highly educated individuals is also apt to find a welcoming employment market where their experience is desirable and where employers will recognize that they do not require benefits like health insurance due to their eligibility for Medicare,” said Sandra Timmermann, director of MMI. “The preponderance of white-collar workers in this group will also make it easier for them to continue working.”

In the past, the study reported, about 75 percent of men and women would be fully retired within five years of turning 65. By the time the Early Boomers approach age 70, fewer than 50 percent of those ages 65 to 69 will have retired.

“The Leading Edge Boomers have a tradition of being trailblazers and their entry into the 65-plus generation keeps that reputation alive,” said the study’s co-author, demographics expert Peter Francese. “This group was among the first for whom college education was commonplace. They were also among to first to have a sense that their lives would be better than those of their parents. While their retirement years will be met by financial challenges, they may end up having more social and personal fulfillment than that if their parents through their continued presence in the workplace.”

Ned Smith
Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.