Baby Boomer Retirement – The Countdown Has Started

Baby Boomer retirement officially started on 1 January 2011 ... the day that the oldest Baby Boomer turned 65. From that day on in the US an average of 10 000 people a day turn 65!

Who are Baby Boomers?

It is generally understood that the Baby Boomer generation includes all those born between 1946 and 1964.

Although many people have tried to provide a clear definition of Baby Boomers they have failed. Boomers generally have the personal view that they are pretty unique and a bit “special”. Probably as a result of their significant historical impact.

Although there is no clear definition of Baby Boomers there is widespread use of the term. This concept popularized the phenomenon of defining the world in terms of cohorts or generations.

The Baby Boomer generation has been described as "the pig in the python". The Boomer generation created a demographic bulge which changed society as it aged. After the birth rate explosion with the Boomers, it then dropped with Gen X and increased again with the Echo Boomers, the children of the Baby Boomers.

Recognizing that there were significant differences between the earlier and later Boomers Jonathan Pontell used the term “Generation Jones” to distinguish those born from 1954 onward from the earlier Baby Boomers.

Characteristics of Baby Boomers

The Baby Boomers are characterized as the well educated, workaholic generation This has probably led to them criticizing Gen X and Echo Boomer's (Millennials) for a lack of work ethic.

A high proportion are married, employed and they hold a significant proportion of the world's wealth. Baby Boomers occupy many leadership positions in business and politics.

However as they start to retire there will be a significant loss of skills and, in their opinion, work commitment.

They are independent, goal orientated, self reliant achievers who like to win. Their competitive spirit resulted in a focus on health and exercise.

It remains to be seen if their one failure is in their baby boomer retirement?

Cultural and Social Impact on Society

Boomers grew up at a time of dramatic social change. In many countries that change marked a strong cultural divide, with those driving social change versus the more conservative.

While Britain was undergoing Beatlemania the United States had Woodstock, organizing against the Vietnam War, or fighting and dying in the same war; Boomers in Italy were following British mod clothes fashions; Boomers in India were seeking new philosophical discoveries; South African Boomers were questioning apartheid and national military service.

The Baby Boomer generation found that their music, most notably rock and roll, was another expression of their generational identity.

Early Baby Boomers (born from 1946 to 1955), are often associated with social issues, the civil rights movement, the feminist cause in the 1970s, gay rights, handicapped rights, and the right to privacy.

One of the most significant contributions made by the Boomer generation was the expansion of individual freedom.

They remember events that had a significant impact on the world.

The first man on the moon, assassinations of John F and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., the Cuban Missile Crisis, anti-war protests, sexual freedom, experimenting with drugs, Woodstock and rock and roll from the Beatles to Bruce Springsteen.

It is precisely because of these different experiences that many believe that those born in the 1960's belong to another generation, as their cultural identifiers that defined their coming of age have little in common with the earlier Boomers.

“Generation Jones” Baby Boomers (born from 1956 to 1964) are characterized by being less optimistic, distrustful of government and generally more cynical.

Their early memories were far less dramatic and had far less impact. Events like Watergate, Nixon's resignation, the Cold War, the oil embargo, escalating inflation, gasoline shortages and music from Whitney Houston to Annie Lennox and MTV are much more easily forgotten

An indication of the important impact of the boomer was the selection by Time magazine of the Baby Boom Generation as its 1967 "Man of the Year".

Baby Boomer Retirement

As the Baby Boomer retirement starts the first so called Golden Boomers will emerge. This group will then start generating significant worldwide impact.

In 1998, it was reported that the issue of Baby Boomer retirement planning had tended to be avoided and that over the next few years they will be in serious need of retirement help. 

There has been a growing dialogue on how to manage aging and end-of-life issues as the generation ages. It has been argued that Baby Boomers are in a state of denial regarding their own aging and health and are leaving an undue economic burden on their children for their retirement and care.

The one unanswered question is whether they will be able to carry their free spirited, experimental, individualistic lives through to a successful Baby Boomer retirement?


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