Millions of baby boomers caught in broken retirement system

The following is from one of those horror scenarios we regularly read about these days.

The impact will reach far beyond the more than 70 million living members of the baby-boom generation. It will affect everything from employment patterns to the price of real estate.

With life spans lengthening, in concert with medical bills, financially strapped baby boomers entering the years of serious physical decline will put an immense burden down the road on Medicaid and on their families. “Their children are looking around and wondering what this means for them,” said Jan Mutchler of University of Massachusetts at Boston. “It will be felt down the family chain,” said Alicia Munnell, a professor of management sciences at Boston College. “People are going to be anxious. There’s going to be some intergenerational ripple.” …

Half of American families in the 56-to-61 age bracket had less than $21,000 in retirement savings in 2016, according to a longitudinal study by the Economic Policy Institute that used the most recent available figures.

Source: Millions of baby boomers caught in broken retirement system | The Gazette

Yes, there are unfortunate individuals who faced any number of hardships during their lives that left them in financial trouble. But for most, the great majority, getting to retirement with very limited or no resources is the result of financial and other life choices, especially spending and debt habits.

To say the retirement system is broken is misleading. Most Americans never had employer pensions. In fact, with the introduction of IRAs, (1974) 401k, (1980) etc. the boomer and following generations have more opportunities to prepare for retirement than previous generations.

One comment

  1. The headline should read that millions of baby boomers failed to plan.

    It is generation X and millennials I worry about (30 to 50 year-olds). The retirement model has transition to almost no pensions. Several major financial crises during their working years. You now work multiple jobs later in life. Some do not have enough working time to make adjustments or didn’t understand the value of 401ks and IRA at an early age if they do even understand now. No real good parental or other relatives as examples of what retirement looks like financially under defined contribution style plans and 401Ks.

    I think kids under 30 will have plenty of lessons and time to adjust to the new reality of how to save for retirement and will learn from their elders’ mistakes.


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