This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Baby Boomers May Voluntarily Delay Retirement

The Associated Press has reported the results of a new survey that it recently commissioned among the US baby boomers. The data suggest that boomers are staying in the labor force longer than many had expected, and that they are experiencing relatively little age discrimination thus far.
Nearly half of those born between 1946 and 1964 now work for a younger boss, and most report that they are older than most colleagues. But 61 percent of the baby boomers surveyed said their age is not an issue at work, while 25 percent called it an asset. Only 14 percent classified getting older as a workplace liability.
The first post-World War II baby boomers reach 65 this year. But two-thirds say they'll work at least part-time past retirement age for financial reasons, either because they'll need to or because they'll want extra spending money. Another 29 percent said they'll keep working just to stay busy. About 1 in 4 boomers still working say they'll never retire, and about the same fraction say they have saved no money for retirement. [That's pretty scary!]
It's an important snapshot of the nature of the nation's economic rebound at a time when the jobless rate remains persistently high. Workers from the wave of 77 million people born during the post-World War II boom are sweeping toward retirement age and beyond. Even as the economy begins to grow, the swollen workforce at the older end of the spectrum could mean fewer jobs for younger workers and those who became unemployed during the recession.
A Congressional Budget Office report released March 22 found that while boomers are expected to begin leaving the workforce over the next decade, they may also be retiring later in life than previous generations. And that could "substantially dampen growth in the labor force" through 2021, the nonpartisan CBO reported.
This was the same issue that arose recently in the context of officially raising the full retirement age for receiving Social Security. That saves money in the long-term, but forces people to stay in the labor force longer and creates less turnover. Indeed, you will recall that one of the original motivations for passing Social Security back in the 1930s was precisely to get older workers out of the labor force to make room for younger workers. Nothing is ever easy.

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