As the Baby Boomers march toward their sunset years, it’s time for them to think about retirement, both as it relates to individuals and to the economy as a whole.
Born just after WW II in 1945 and on up to around 1960 when family formation was going great guns, Boomers came to dominate the U.S. culture for the next several decades.
If the boomers retire at the traditional age, say from ages 62 to 67, (not including public and union workers who retire at ages starting 48), that’s going to leave a hole in the pool of productive workers. Not only does that mean that fewer people will be paying into Social Security, it also means losing a large part of the producing and consuming portion of the population.
Boomers have always had a sense of themselves, their cohort and their place in the history of the world. Boomer writers and movie directors have defined them. One key characteristic is Forever Young. They take vitamins, exercise, walk, bike, play tennis and basketball, eat carefully – clearly the boomers intend to live forever. If they retire, they are admitting they have failed.
Imagine the psychological shock it’s going to be if they are forced to retire, whether through illness or employers who don’t want them any more. We’re guessing a large number will develop second or third careers – another boon to the economy.
This refusal to get old is good for the economy. Our population has stabilized – heck, it might even have declined, given the mass self-deportation of foreign non-documented workers who fled south with the economy. (If you are going to be poor, you might as well go somewhere where most of your neighbors are poor and speak your own language.)
Add that to the government policy of paying people not to work and paying for their food and medical care, thus relieving them of the burden of going to work every day, and the U.S. labor force may shrink for a long time.
While this is bad for the housing market, it might be good for the rest of the economy. The last decade got just too frantic – culturally and economically. Maybe it was time to take a big breath and slow down… and stay Forever Young.