An aging work force that will not retire
If conventional wisdom is to believed, the baby boomer generation would be retiring in an orderly fashion at a rate of 4þ million per year. However, that generation, born
between 1946 and 1964, has rarely, if ever, done anything in an orderly fashion. In fact, the majority of baby boomers are still in the labor force at the highest annual rate for people their age in more than half a century.
And general demographic trends and a series of historic economic events have been combined to redefine retirement for this generation, just as they redefined schooling, work, marriage and family earlier in their lives. The boomers, nearly 80 million of them, disrupted the conventional wisdom, in part, because they were so much larger than their parents’ generation – by a lot, nearly double. This forced our society to adapt to them all along the way and will require us to continue to do so.
From 1920 to 1945, there were about 2.75 million babies born each year, with a bit of a dip during the deepest part of the Great Depression. A “boom” was quite apparent starting right after the Second World War when 1946 had 3.6 million babies being born and continued upward from there, never again dipping below 3 million and peaking in 1957 at nearly 4.3 million for the generation. Along the way, this huge cohort not only redefined each life phase but also were not shy about it. Unlike their parents, who grew up during the Great Depression and the uncertainty of the Second World War, boomers mostly grew up in an era of prosperity, safety and a sense of entitlement to a successful and secure future.
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