On behalf of Baby Boomers everywhere, I just want to say to the Generation X and Generation Y folks out there: We’re sorry. Who knew there would be so many of us – and who knew we’d live so long?
Since 2010, about 10,000 boomers a day have celebrated their 65th birthdays, and by 2030, all boomers will be at least age 65, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. We who were born in the years immediately following World War II (roughly 1946-1960, depending on who’s doing the classifying) now number around 56 million, according to the Census Bureau.
Age 65 as a benchmark made sense in the past, but these days, life expectancy is 79.8 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That means more years of being active with more medical claims. The odds are that we boomers may collect more benefits than what we ever had deducted from our paychecks.
Moreover, we boomers are not content to pass our “golden years” in a rocking chair on the porch. We’re out there doing and going – and certain to break a bone or two that we wouldn’t have broken doing the same thing 10 or 20 years ago. We’re like that, you know; it’s hard to give up things. I bet you’re worried whether there will be adequate funding to pay for all those knee and hip replacements – or even multiples since these devices weren’t meant to last more than 20-25 years in the first place.
My apologies, Gen X and Gen Y. Who knew that we’d live so long and be so active while we were doing it?
Oh, and by the way, Gen X-ers or Gen Y-ers, there are a lot more of us than you. We boomers decided to have smaller families; consequently, there aren’t as many of you today to contribute to Social Security to pick up the slack and ensure everyone’s expected benefits. You also need to know that we boomers are, to greater or lesser degrees, dependent on Social Security. While we sent kids to college and now help with elderly parents, some of us were lousy savers.
We’re sorry, too, for all the senior-focused advertising in today’s media, but there’s good reason for it. From former NFL star 77-year-old Joe Namath promoting Medicare supplement policies to all those ads about swanky senior-living complexes, we seniors are big business.
For example, according to the website SeniorLiving.com – which collects statistics from all kinds of government and private sources – we seniors account for 60% of all healthcare spending and purchase 74% of all prescription drugs. We buy 41% of all new cars and account for 80% of all luxury travel. Adults 50 and older control a household net worth of $19 trillion and own more than three-fourths of the nation’s financial wealth. We spend more per capita on groceries, over-the-counter products, travel and leisure than any other age group.
So, once again, Generations X and Y: We’re sorry about the fix we’re all in, and that the future might not appear quite so bright. But, all in all, we would do well to remember the words of Abraham Lincoln who said, “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.”
And we’re always here for you.