The Guide To Being A Baby Boomer
|Written by Ken Teegardin|
SeniorLiving.Org Expert on Chief Editor | Caregiver
In 2011, that first round of Baby Boomers—those Americans born between 1946 and 1964—turns 65.
From now until 2030, 10,000 Baby Boomers each day will hit retirement age. Millions will begin to officially retire, collect social security checks and go on Medicare. Other Boomers will keep on working either out of financial necessity or out of some less tangible need like identity and self-worth.
In the several decades prior to the Boom, babies in the U.S. were born at a rate of about 2.5 million a year. Then in 1946, this rate exploded to 3.4 million and maintained this pace for the next few decades.
The peak years were 1957 and 1961 with 4.3 million births a year. In all, these years produced about 76 million Baby Boomers.
The official retirement age to receive a Social Security check is 62. At 65, you’ll automatically receive Medicare which covers basic health care at 80%. If you wait to retire until you’re 67, your benefit will be about 30% higher than at 62. Wait another three years to retire and you could receive a 75% bigger check. It certainly pays to wait.
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Who are the Boomers?
Baby Boomers were born in an era that experienced great U.S. political and social upheaval. From race riots to the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam protests, the assassinations of JFK, MLK and RFK, and the man on the moon to free love and drug experimentation, Boomers saw a U.S. that was both financially prosperous and socially turned on its head.
Consider the U.S. economy between 1940 and 1960:
- Gross National Product doubled
- Real purchasing power increased by 30%
- Four-fifths of American families owned at least one car
- Home ownership increased to 61%
This growth was due to their parents, the Greatest Generation. The Boomers were responsible for some growth: consumer debt jumped from 22% in 1946 to 110% in 2002.
Boomers are often labeled as individualist, selfish, cynical, pessimistic, narcissistic, and socially responsible. But it’s hard to label a group that came into the world over a nearly two decade stretch—so much happened so fast over those years. Many are certainly looser with social conventions than their parents. Consider the following.
In one survey, 44% of Baby Boomers were fine with sex outside marriage, 37% approved of casual sex, 29% approved of legalizing marijuana.
Americans born in the 40s were dancing to Buddy Holly one decade and starting their careers the next. Boomers born in the 50s grew up with the Beatles, Dylan and the Stones, and protested the Vietnam War in college.
The 60s Boomers caught the tail end of Vietnam, Watergate and Richard Nixon’s resignation and Disco. A Boomer born in 1964 could be the child of a Boomer born in 1946.
The following Baby Boomer statistics may surprise, frighten or enlighten you:
- Baby Boomers make up 28% of the population.
- Baby Boomers are responsible for over half of consumer spending.
- Baby Boomers control 80% of personal financial assets.
- One in three Americans over 65 relies on Social Security benefits alone.
- Three out four claim benefits when they turn 62 out of financial necessity.
- In 2010 Social Security paid out more in benefits than it received in tax payments.
- In 1950, 16 workers paid for each retiree’s SS benefit; In 2010, it was 3.3 workers and by 2025 it’s projected to be two workers.
40% of Boomers plan to “work until I drop” according to an AARP survey.
Senior Living was created for the Baby Boomers. Our site includes tons of articles to help baby boomers plan their retirement and maximize their lifestyle.
We also have the most complete directory of senior living options so boomers can plan for their heath care needs. It was the baby boomers that made our country great and now we hope you will use Senior Living to help you get the top-notch retirement you deserve.
Updated: Feb 10, 2011