01 July 2008

2011 is coming

The boomer identity: Baby boomers (everyone born in the U.S. between 1946 and 1964) form the largest generation cohort in history. Our impact has already been huge (we produced the baby boomlet, for example) and we will likely live longer than any previous generation. Barring a global disaster that affects longevity, we will work to retirement, retire, and then possibly work some more in ways that will influence the U.S. economy for the next half-century. Our housing and health care decisions will impact not just our own generation but the next one, too, both at the macro (economy and social supports) and micro (family and community) levels. In short, we will expect the next generations to support us, sometimes financially. And in a fashion reminiscent of our own coming-of-age in the 1950s and '60s and '70s, we will be loud and demanding.

2011 is coming: In conversation with a young relative, I asked when we would gather for her high school graduation. She said, "2011" and I exclaimed, "that's the start of boomer retirements—what a year!" And she had no clue as to what I was talking about. Will the first wave of boomer retirements eclipse her milestone of high school graduation? Of course not. But her rite of passage will be part of a very busy year because even though a lot of boomers will not be able to retire in 2011, even a fraction of them taking retirement will make news. 2011 is coming.

On a personal note:
Call me Lida. It's a nickname, so if you want to know more about me you'll have to search my professional name, Mary Bold. What you'll find is my identity as a consultant and teacher and author. I work in the fields of higher ed assessment, distance learning, and family studies. The overlap for this column is my academic discipline, family studies. I come to the topic of demographics with an intense interest in how families operate and I take a socio-historical view of all things normative-adaptive. (That's a fancy way of saying that I do not think the family or society is in decline. I consider all changes to be adaptive, and I consider change inevitable.) And I come to the topic of boomer women with intense self-interest. I was 40 years old before I realized that most of my assumptions about health, wealth, and retirement were wrapped up in a "package deal" of spousal benefits. Of course, that package doesn't fit today's realities. I had to replace that generational mindset and look for new ways to navigate middle age and plan for retirement. I am adapting.

~ Lida

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