Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The Peculiar Dynamic of Boomers' Non-Retirement

A generation too poor to retire but healthy enough to keep working into their 70s is a new and not necessarily positive phenomenon.

A funny thing happened on the way to the Golden Years for the nation's Baby Boomers--they're not retiring.

There have been news articles on this phenomenon since the Great Recession sank its teeth into the Boomers' collective fantasy of retiring on the unearned swag generated by their homes and/or stock market holdings--for example, Boomers May Not Retire.

The implosion of the housing fantasy and the 40% haircut to 401K and IRA retirement funds since 2007 have made it impossible for many to retire according to their previous plans.

Just within our own circle of family, friends and contacts, we see people who could retire at 65 sticking it out to 70 or even longer. One is extending his state university career because his mortgage is so large; a woman who works at a private school is still working at 72 because her two sons (both pushing 40) are dilettantes who are still living off Mom's income (one lives at home, the other depends on his parents to pay his rent while he pursues a theatre career).

In the good old days, one worked as a waiter or cabbie to fund one's theatre/acting aspirations. Apparently it is now acceptable to avoid scutwork jobs and live off one's parents until they expire, at which point an inheritance (their life insurance and real estate holdings) should offer years more of living free from the burdens of making an income.

On the other hand, if all these aging Boomers retired, then younger people could take over their jobs, and make their own living.

Isn't this a peculiar dynamic? Boomers can't retire for financial reasons, so they cling to their careers, depriving younger people of jobs, who are then dependent on Boomers working into their 70s.

We also know people whose parents have passed away this year who will inherit a handsome sum of cash in the mid-to-high six-figures, enough to fund their upper-middle class lifestyle for some time to come.

Interestingly, 92% of Americans receive no inheritance (I raise my hand here) and only 1.6% of Americans receive $100,000 or more in inheritance.

It seems a tiny sliver of the Baby Boomers stand to inherit substantial wealth, removing the need to earn a living, while tens of millions of other Boomers will work into their 70s in order to pay down stupendous mortgages taken on in the bubble years and fund their offspring's college and low-income, low-opportunity life beyond college.

The only Boomers we know who are retiring like clockwork are those who work for the government, Federal, state or local with hefty pensions--in some cases after gaming the system to boost their pension. (That includes one of my cousins, so I know exactly how the scam works for fire department employees.)

With loose morals and looting being not just acceptable but normalized, no wonder the public pension system is careening off a cliff.

Other Boomers we know are either getting Social Security the day they qualify, or are planning to do so. That may be one reason why the supposedly endless surpluses in Social Security have vanished into deficits covered by other tax revenues.

Bottom line: a tiny percentage of Boomers will inherit substantial wealth, the 17% who work for "the gummit" will exit with pensions and benefits private sector retirees can only dream about, leaving many of the other 83% to labor until they drop dead or are too enfeebled to work.

The younger generations are left with the bitter fruit of excess and greed: the government jobs vacated by Boomers are in many cases vanishing as state and local governments are slashing jobs in order to fund the bloated pensions for Boomers.

Instead of clearing out and opening up opportunities for younger workers, the private-sector Boomers are clinging to their jobs out of financial neccessity.

I say this as an observation, not as a setup for a "solution." I don't see any solution; I sympathize with the Boomers who have seen their retirement funds torched by stock and housing declines, and I also sympathize with the young generation who is chafing under limited opportunities as people who should be retiring or moving out of fulltime jobs are working into their 70s.

Here is a related entry of note, chockfull of facts and charts: Why Private Employment Is In Structural Decline (June 8, 2010).

I will be tending to family matters during September and will be unable to read or respond to email--please accept my apologies in advance. Please post comments to the Daily Java forum.

If you would like to post a comment where others can read it, please go, (registering only takes a moment), select Of Two Minds-Charles Smith, and then go to The daily topic. To see other readers recent comments, go to New Posts.

Order Survival+: Structuring Prosperity for Yourself and the Nation and/or Survival+ The Primer from your local bookseller or from or in ebook and Kindle formats.A 20% discount is available from the publisher.

Of Two Minds is now available via Kindle: Of Two Minds blog-Kindle

Thank you, Clay C. ($50), for your stupendously generous contribution to this site-- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

Terms of Service

All content on this blog is provided by Trewe LLC for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information. These terms and conditions of use are subject to change at anytime and without notice.

Our Privacy Policy:
Correspondents' email is strictly confidential. The third-party advertising placed by Adsense, Investing Channel and/or other ad networks may collect information for ad targeting. Links for commercial sites are paid advertisements. Blog links on the site are posted at my discretion.

Our Commission Policy:
Though I earn a small commission on books and gift certificates purchased via links on my site, I receive no fees or compensation for any other non-advertising links or content posted on my site.

  © Blogger templates Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP