I was reorganizing my retirement funds recently and that got me thinking: How are other retired Baby Boomers doing? In that process I learned about why we have fewer and fewer workers for highly skilled jobs…
Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, make up 28% of the United States population, making them one of the largest living adult generations, second to millennials. In 2011, the first round of Baby Boomers—those Americans born between 1946 and 1964—turned 65.
From now until 2030, 10,000 Baby Boomers will be retiring every single day!
The COVID pandemic, shall we say, encouraged early retirement. According to the Pew Research Center, the rate of retirement for Boomers accelerated with COVID-19, with nearly 29 million Boomers retired in 2020, three million more than in 2019.
Seventy-five million Boomers are expected to retire by 2030, paving the way for what is now being called “The Great Retirement,” as opposed to the “Great Resignation.”
“The Great Retirement” is an unprecedented flood of retirees exiting the workforce earlier than planned, triggered by the pandemic which heavily affected those 60 and older. Whether it was to enjoy life, health concerns, or a changing work environment, this part of the workforce has seen an uptick in retirement. In spite of these numbers, many Boomers find it hard to retire. Why? Many baby boomers are worried about their finances. Nearly two-thirds expressed concern about not having enough savings to quit their job. Shockingly, at least to me, the median retirement savings of Baby Boomers today is just $144,000 to $202,000.
Health & Death Rate Among Boomers
The largest generation in American history, Boomers are likely to remain that way for the foreseeable future. What wasn’t foreseen was how long Baby Boomers would live. When the first Boomers were born, the average life expectancy was 63 years old. Among Boomers recently that was 79 years, but that is falling.
Unfortunately we, as a generation, are not as healthy as our parents were at our age. Why? One culprit is obesity-associated chronic diseases caused by a gigantic dietary shift. Beginning in the 1950s we were introduced to fast, convenient, processed foods with plenty of additives and preservatives. Today we have increased deaths from chronic liver disease, suicide, cirrhosis of the liver, along with poisonings all caused by addiction. I’m sure you have heard about recent death spikes related to opioid abuse, alcohol abuse, and heroin abuse. The implications of this epidemic are massive.
As we all know, addiction is a symptom of bigger issues—the underlying causes of addiction need to be treated. Our generation, known for questioning authority and seeking equality, has lived through significant family changes brought on from two-parent working households, increased divorce rates, increased career mobility, increased technological advancement, and increased psychological awareness. How have these factors impacted our long-term well-being?
As someone who lives in a poor, rural county in southern Colorado, whose average age is 55, I can say I have known many more people who have died here in the past 9 years than I have ever known before. It seems a fairly regular event to hear of another person’s death. Some move here to retire and find the higher elevation too much of a challenge (kind of like me). Many came here to die and do. We certainly have our share of addiction problems and depression. I now see retirement as more of a quality of life challenge. It isn’t about money, addiction or even how long I live, but more about spending my last years in appreciation for what I have right here before me everyday.