Baby Boomer Backlash – Their Retirement Years Will be Unique

I didn’t ask to be born, but if I had, I don’t know if I would have chosen to be born during the Baby Boom of about 1946 to 1964. I think I would have chosen a different time period – had I known how many of the ills of the world would be blamed on the Baby Boomer Generation.

A better fit for me would have been my parent’s generation – the Silent Generation. They were conservative, hard-working and they lived well below their means throughout their careers. In retirement, the Silents are by no means ostentatious or big spenders. That pretty much sums up the way my Spousal Unit and I have more or less lived our lives so far, notwithstanding the new Harley in the garage.

The Boomers are just starting to enter Retirement, and large concerns loom over how the economy will adjust to the impact they will have on Pension Funds and Health Care costs.  The Baby Boomers, and the social fabric they have created, are much more free-wheeling with their money than the Silent Generation. In fact, the Boomers are quite happy to spend money they don’t even have yet. The result is a staggering debt load. Debt is not a very good way to start retirement.

So you can see why Governments are getting nervous. They have taken all the Baby Boomers Tax dollars for the past 40 years or so, and spent it on what they thought they wanted at the time. Not a lot of thought went into saving the money for what was inevitably going to happen when the Baby Boomers exited the job market. Apparently a good many Baby Boomers weren’t much good at saving either.

The younger generations are nervous. They don’t want, and can’t afford, the burden of supporting elderly Baby Boomers. So what is going to happen?

I expect the Baby Boomers will simply adapt, and in doing so they will redefine the rules of retirement. They will work longer than previous generations. They will downsize their housing and belongings. They will move to more economical parts of the country.

Governments will adapt too. They will try to raise taxes, but the people will finally revolt and say enough is enough. So the governments will cut back on services  – which isn’t a bad thing, because there are way too many things the government does that they don’t do very well. Some Pensions and Health Care systems may fail, but that meant they weren’t built very well.

As the Baby Boomers retire, (or die off) the subsequent work forces will redeploy themselves in ways that work for them. Then the newest generation can grouse and bitch about those generations… The cycle will start again.

Generation Summary – dates will overlap as there is no standard definitions. Names may vary by country.
Lost Generation: Born 1890-1915
GI or Greatest Generation: Born 1910-1925
Silent Generation: Born 1925-1945
Boomers: Born 1943-1964
Generation X: Born 1965 to 1981
Generation Y or Millennials: Born 1980 to 1995
Generation Z or Centennials: Born 1996 to 2010
Generation Alpha: Born 2011 to 2025

In 2015 in both United States and Canada, the Millennial Generation became the largest cohort in the work force (about 35 to 37%), with the Boomer and Generation X work forces each at 31 to 34%.

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10 thoughts on “Baby Boomer Backlash – Their Retirement Years Will be Unique

  1. Hi, Margie… Another factor worth considering is that as baby boomers retire and downsize, they’ll sell, or try to sell, their larger home. This will put a whole lot of larger homes on the market. This supply (or over supply) of homes will make for a soft market for larger homes for some two decades. Bill

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    • Alternately, the person could continue living in the home, thus using the house as a form of equity which is spent by – well, living in the home. They could also possibly secure reverse mortgages on these properties. Your comment is, however, a reminder that the family home may not turn out to be as valuable an asset as hoped.

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      • Hi, Margie… Yes, they could remain in the home. In that case, they wouldn’t be free to decide where to live in retirement. By the way, this is actually the same problem which is compounding the current unemployment situation. The soft housing market is keeping people from moving to accept a job in another area. Bill

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        • I can’t speak for all Canadians, but I think many keep the family home as a summer residence, then head south for the winter. That lets them stay connected with their established community AND try out other lifestyles and locations. Florida, Arizona and California are popular destinations. I’ve spent a little time in all of them, and can truly say they are great places to visit, knowing you don’t have to live there full time…

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  2. I’m actually tired of hearing younger generation complaining about us, the health care burden…there’s a number of baby boomers who are changing their lifestyle permanently to remain or become healthier. Which means we are living longer (some of us) and hence, will need not care sooner but later in life, close to probably tail-end of life which is the way it should be.

    After all, we weren’t the generation when we were teenagers, most of them were not noticeably overweight in significant numbers, compared to today’s generations.

    I don’t expect the younger generation to bow to us forever as wisdom of the elders. I only hope that the majority aren’t continuously disrespectful of life experience and perspective that we continue to have over time.

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  3. And I imagine several folks, boomers think I’m in the younger generation because I bike everywhere (I’ve car-free for last 30 years.) and wear cycling skirts..

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    • Hi Jean – that is quite an accomplishment! I can certainly see how it would be possible in Vancouver, but it would be much more difficult in other Canadian cities where there is so many days of snow and bitterly cold weather!

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  4. I have read many articles on the baby boomers and how gen x ers are tired of them. And I can only speak from personal experience. My parents are well to do boomers and divorced. My dad remarried a much younger woman. He has a severe drinking problem and he wasn’t always like that. My mom was lazy and only thought of herself and my sister. My dad has no concept of how jobs are hard to find nowadays and minimum wage is a joke. College education is a joke with a huge amount of graduates paying off overpriced education and working for minimum wage. The boomers have a habit of not seeing reality and how things are now and how many families are struggling. They can only think about their next expensive vacation or their next expensive dinner and turn a blind eye to their children who are struggling just to live. They only care about themselves. They have no idea how much a drain they are on society and how they have taken everything and never gave back. In the meantime we suffer and struggle and one day when they need our help we won’t be there because we will be too busy trying to give our kids a better life working two and three jobs. A lot of boomers not all but a lot put their needs first and it’s not even their needs because they have houses and cars, they put their lifestyle first before anything else. God forbid they downsize and god forbid they help their own family members in need who are busting their asses.

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    • You bring up a good point about the college education, Mike. There has been so much emphasis on getting a college degree and not enough emphasis on learning a trade. I have been following Mike Rowe (of Dirty Jobs fame) http://www.mikeroweworks.com/home and I think he has some good ideas about how younger people can make their lives better and why there needs to be a different focus on how to improve the economy.
      It isn’t just the boomers who put their lifestyle first, is it? Society has created a large, wealthy niche of people and products. I’m thinking of the entertainment, professional sports and communications industries. Consumers of all ages support these industries, yet they are not essential, they are lifestyle choices.

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