A boomer retirement bomb is about to blow up America's economy

The great baby-boomer retirement wave is upon us. According to Census Bureau data, 44% of boomers are at retirement age and millions more are soon to join them. By 2030, the largest generation to enter retirement will all be older than 65.

The general assumption is that boomers will have a comfortable retirement. Coasting on their accumulated wealth from three decades as America’s dominant economic force, boomers will sail off into their golden years to sip on margaritas on cruises and luxuriate in their well-appointed homes. After all, Federal Reserve data shows that while the 56 million Americans over 65 make up just 17% of the population, they hold more than half of America’s wealth — $96.4 trillion.

But there’s a flaw in the narrative of a sunny boomer retirement: A lot of older Americans are not set up for their later years. Yes, many members of the generation are loaded, but many more are not. Like every age cohort, there’s significant wealth inequality among retirees — and it’s gotten worse in the past decade. Despite holding more than half of the nation’s wealth, many boomers don’t have enough money to cover the costs of long-term care, and 43% of 55- to 64-year-olds had no retirement savings at all in 2022. That year, 30% of people over 65 were economically insecure, meaning they made less than $27,180 for a single person. And since younger boomers are less financially prepared for retirement than their older boomer siblings, the problem is bound to get worse.

As boomers continue to age out of the workforce, it’s going to put strain on the healthcare system, government programs, and the economy. That means more young people are going to be financially responsible for their parents, more government spending will be allocated to older folks, and economic growth could slow.

Milk_Sheikh, (edited )

You cannot get me to empathize with boomer retirement woes, when they built their gilded sky-fort by looting the peace dividend after WW2 and told everyone else to fuck off and make it their own way. Every single generation since has been poorer, had less wealth and ability to save for retirement, all while the boomers vote themselves more and more entitlements.

The trickled fire sale from retirement funds and portfolios is going to be brutal. Every market transaction needs a counterparty, and if everyone else is too broke to buy stock/bonds/houses at the price your financial ‘planner’ values it, the bubble pops.

FartsWithAnAccent,
@FartsWithAnAccent@lemmy.world avatar

*empathize

wowbyowen,

So the top two hundred net worth individuals have amassed 30% of us wealth and boomers hold half the wealth. No wonder young people are suffering…

RestrictedAccount,

I think the point is that those two hundred are Boomers. The rest of the boomers are broke.

FunkyMonk,

It's always a class war, anything else is a distraction.

Rooskie91,

Yeah it’s easy to get mad at boomers. It’s also easy to forget that medicare and social security are under attack. The divisionthat matters isn’t between generations, it’s between the rich and the poor.

snausagesinablanket,
@snausagesinablanket@lemmy.world avatar

Nailed it.

the_q,

Boomers voted to gut the services they need now.

MamboGator,
@MamboGator@lemmy.world avatar

Really? Every single one of them?

Please realize you’re talking about individuals, not a collective consciousness.

EasternLettuce,

deleted_by_author

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  • MamboGator,
    @MamboGator@lemmy.world avatar

    I repeat, “every single one of them?”

    My coworker is in her 60s and as progressive as they come. She hates Trump, supports public healthcare and a social safety net. She also doesn’t make enough to save for retirement and plans to work until she dies. Is she reaping what she sowed?

    You’re wishing harm on people because their generation “trended” a certain way. That is textbook dehumanization.

    EasternLettuce,

    deleted_by_author

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  • MamboGator,
    @MamboGator@lemmy.world avatar

    Really? Because you literally said all boomers deserve the suffering that a portion of their age group has caused. Sounds more like you’re just an asshole who likes to justify their hatred by dehumanizing an entire age group (a group that cannot be opted into) so you can condemn them collectively for the actions of the worst members.

    EasternLettuce,

    deleted_by_author

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  • MamboGator,
    @MamboGator@lemmy.world avatar

    “As a whole”? So all boomers got together and voted the same way? Or do you mean that they all deserve to suffer because of what the majority voted for?

    Depending on which you meant, you’re either a moron who thinks invoking basic rhetorical concepts counts as an argument, or you’re just an evil person.

    Takumidesh,

    You are insufferable.

    Aqarius,
    MotoAsh,

    “Every single one of them?”

    No that’s not how voting works. That’s never how it has worked. It DOESN’T REQUIRE all of them.

    Almost no one is DIRECTLY blaming all the boomers, We’re just pissed at them because they’ve done LESS THAN NOTHING to help these problems. Boomers told us to bootstrap it.

    Where’s our empathy?? Where the FUCK is theirs?! It is totally fine to dislike someone willfully ignoring problems even if they didn’t directly create them.

    snausagesinablanket,
    @snausagesinablanket@lemmy.world avatar

    Boomers voted to gut the services they need now. GOP Boomers.

    Osa-Eris-Xero512,

    This is occurring specifically because of the choices they collectively made.

    It's hard to be sympathetic.

    MamboGator,
    @MamboGator@lemmy.world avatar

    Treating an entire generation as a collective is incredibly ignorant. I know boomers who vote for socialist policies, so kindly take your reductionist attitude of human beings and trade it in for a conscience.

    Azteh,

    Since I agree with you, I’m interested in your opinion of where a potential cut-off point would be. Say X% of people between the ages 18 and 25 get into a car crash yearly, when is it okay to assume that because you are between 18 and 25 you shouldn’t be allowed to drive? Is it when X = 75, lower/higher or is there never a point for you and you’d still prefer to judge an individual?

    acceptable_pumpkin,

    Not that it has any relevance to the rest of this thread, but that’s exactly why some states require people over a certain age (say 75) to retest for their drivers license. So you assess the individual while looking at data on the whole group.

    Same could be said about this broader topic. It’s unfair to lump an entire group together like this. It would be like saying that since most young people don’t vote in elections, we should just disregard that entire block of voters.

    CeruleanRuin,

    Tax the wealthy more, they won’t lose any quality of life whatsoever, and the money they extorted from their fellow humans gets paid back to support them in their old age.

    This isn’t actually a hard problem to solve if you take greed out of the equation.

    hpca01,

    You underestimate the stupidity of boomers, they’d rather vote to increase SS taxes for the younger generation than to realize they’ve been Stockholm syndromed their entire life.

    ComradeKhoumrag,
    @ComradeKhoumrag@infosec.pub avatar

    It’s still going to be a hard problem to solve, even though we should raise taxes on the elites.

    When there are more old people in retirement than young people at work, it’s impossible for each old person to get the care they need. This pulls more workers out of other economic functions to help take care of these people which just further exacerbates the supply shortage.

    Furthermore, most of our economy is built off ““innovation””, which is typically done by people in their 20s-30s. This generation is going to be limited by this extra work of being care caretakers, and the costs of innovation are going to be higher…

    Consider all this, then add Taiwan just voted for independence, so China is likely to be more antagonist towards the west, so costs of simple manufacturing or complex manufacturing of consumer goods are also going to skyrocket

    The next 7 years are going to be very interesting

    Buddahriffic,

    I don’t think it’s correct to assume that the labour market will move into old age care just because more workers will be needed. Personally, there’s no amount of money that you could offer me to get me into that line of work.

    As I understand it, there’s already a shortage of workers in that field. Increasing demand might draw more as the money (theoretically) increases, but being short staffed adds even more difficulty to the work, so burnout might be high enough to counteract that.

    In short, I think a lot of boomers will suffer as they need care, and it’s possible it’ll also affect younger generations.

    ComradeKhoumrag,
    @ComradeKhoumrag@infosec.pub avatar

    What about when it’s your parents that need taking care of, and no one else is available to help?

    Buddahriffic,

    I guess it’s one area where I’m lucky neither of my parents are still around because I’ll never have to make that decision because I have no idea what I would have done if I did need to make it.

    Though I do know from the other side of that that I don’t want to be a burden on my daughter when I get to that point. Maybe I’ll be lucky and things will be figured out since the population spread will look different, but then again, I don’t know if I’d consider any kind of life like that lucky. Both of my parents chose to decline medical care when it got to the point where they’d need it regularly to survive; I might do the same.

    ComradeKhoumrag,
    @ComradeKhoumrag@infosec.pub avatar

    That’s a tough choice to make, but nothing wrong with yours

    cheesebag,

    Taiwan didn’t just vote for Independence, they elected the China-skeptical candidate for President. It wasn’t some Brexit-esque national referendum on Independence.

    werefreeatlast,

    This sounds like opportunity all around to me. All 30 and 20 something’s will get some scraps in the process of recycling everything boomer.

    daltotron,

    So a couple narratives, right. One is that they’re just gonna blow all their generational wealth on nothing and blah blah blah fuck off, and then those that do have generational wealth are just gonna get it eaten up by government inheritance taxes, and maybe debt collectors, who are less sympathetic, because fuck debt and specifically people looking to wring old people for all their worth. Scum, lowest of the low, should be lined up and pelted with. Maybe small coins? Pocket change? Could be kind of ironic.

    At the same time, little weird that people will make a big stink about medicare and social security going underwater, and then not want to pay taxes on inheritance, because they’re entitled to it. That shit doesn’t track, really. They could advocate for less spending on the military, sure, but if the conception of the economy is that it just kind of works like how a house balances debt (it doesn’t), then paying debts should be good, no? Weird double standard in western culture, still. Everyone hates usury, but simultaneously conceives of “the economy” as working through it, and “the economy” as being, if not good, then incredibly important and worth protecting at all costs. Point is, the common conception of how the economy works is flawed, and then some people have an idea of how it should work, but, in any case, the ire should be drawn with that, rather than with “the boomers”. Attacking “the boomers” is weird. It’s treating a symptom, not the cause.

    Second, also a weird note, is that “the boomers”, monolithically, are holding onto their jobs, or something. Certainly, a good proportion, and probably the majority that are still holding out, are doing so because of a lack of alternative, and despite how good it may feel, it’s probably not moral to blame someone for, say, being an alcoholic in their 20’s and 30’s, and say they don’t deserve to retire on that basis. Kind of scummy. A good amount of boomers face that situation, and face worse situations where they aren’t even at fault for their positions, really. Any racial minority, really, including some we now consider to be white.

    Then, a small proportion are refusing to retire because they’re just at the top of the company. Board executives, big decision making guys. Unfortunately for the rest of us, we will never get their positions. If they retire, will their job be taken by some millenial? Will it be taken by someone in Gen X? Would it even matter, or would the position inherently be both corrupting, and magnetic to the corruptible and corrupt? Probably the latter, probably it wouldn’t matter who it went to, because it’s just part of a larger power structure and whoever gets hired is going to be in further service to said power structure, as it’s self-reinforcing.

    Also, this shit is never true. ohhhhh no social security is going away because the boomers are retiring! nooo! you should be able to invest your retirement into a private account on the basis that the government’s social security and retirement plans are going belly up because of all the boomers! nooo! this shit has been spinning for like 40 years, do not believe the hype.

    sleepmode,

    “Can I live with you?” I remember my Dad joking. I said, “Maybe you should have thought of that when you kicked me out when I finished high school.”

    EmergMemeHologram,

    This is a lesson on making your assumptions on averages.

    There’s only one average despite wraith inequality, the boomers will end up working several small jobs and not fully returing for some time.

    They’re the healthiest generation to hit retirement yet.

    halferect,

    Those lazy boomers just don’t wanna work any more, my generation (millenial) has at least two jobs and shares a apt with 6 other people. Or why don’t they just learn to code?

    set_secret,

    economic growth slowing? sounds like an ok situation to me.

    Growth is literally destroying the habitable planet, the mindset of growth needs to stop.

    Specal,

    Growth slowing is fine when your economic system doesn’t require infinite growth. If we’re looking for shrinkage we need to change economic systems… Which I’m personally all for

    gedaliyah,
    @gedaliyah@lemmy.world avatar

    Maybe boomers will finally stop blocking the healthcare reforms that they will desperately need. If they can turn off TV news long enough to see their own problems instead of the made-up problems they are trained to focus on.

    SkepticalButOpenMinded,

    I think that, more likely, they’ll plump up healthcare services for only themselves. Boomers don’t vote against big government social services for everyone, they only oppose it when it’s not for themselves. That’s why both Republicans and Democrats defend Social Security and medicare for the elderly. Even DeSantis is campaigning on defending SS.

    gedaliyah,
    @gedaliyah@lemmy.world avatar

    Unfortunately, I’m sure you’re right. I’m not sure how the younger generations will afford to foot the already astronomical bill for Boomer healthcare. Meanwhile, actual healthcare reforms would benefit everyone and in fact end up costing far less.

    Witchhatswamp,

    Don’t worry, they definitely won’t go that route of helping everyone a lot when they could help their people just a little.

    AlfredEinstein,

    Hit the Pause Button on Medicare for a couple of years. Literally pay nothing. And a lot of our old people problem will disappear.

    CeruleanRuin,

    The whole point is that it’s not really an old person problem. It’s a poor person problem.

    We rag on the boomer generation for sponging up all the wealth for themselves, but what gets lost is that this was also at the expense of large swathes of less fortunate boomers. They weren’t just hoarding from other generations, they were hoarding from their fellow boomers. The exploitation class did not discriminate by age.

    Sagifurius,

    Just import a couple percent of your population a year from India to work shit jobs and pay taxes while threatening the existing cultures like a fuckwit frenchman up in canada did.

    blazeknave,

    Cancer and death wiped out my parents’ shit. And apparently several financial crises are all it takes for a small business owner to give up their decades-old life insurance policy to afford food and utilities.

    Reddfugee42,

    Isn’t it crazy to think that if they had moved to any other modern country, they wouldn’t have lost a dime from cancer.

    blazeknave,

    Fuck when you put it that way.

    GrayBackgroundMusic,

    After all, Federal Reserve data shows that while the 56 million Americans over 65 make up just 17% of the population, they hold more than half of America’s wealth — $96.4 trillion.

    How is that wealth distributed? What do you wanna bet it’s REALLY skewed towards rich people hoarding like old dragons? What’s the median, not average, wealth of the boomers?

    Custoslibera,

    You didn’t read the article…this is covered in a table.

    GrayBackgroundMusic,

    Oh, I stopped before then, thanks for mentioning it!

    pulaskiwasright, (edited )

    I see income distribution. Is there wealth distribution? I don’t see it. They’re not the same. they can be pretty disconnected.

    Custoslibera,

    Like net worth? Yes.

    theRealBassist,

    Here’s an article which includes a chart of median income by age.

    www.bankrate.com/…/median-salary-by-age/

    pulaskiwasright,

    Income isn’t the same as wealth though. For extreme wealth, income often isn’t even the biggest factor.

    SpringMango7379,
    @SpringMango7379@lemmy.world avatar

    My father has Parkinson’s and my mother, who was his primary caregiver, passed a few months ago. They went from being comfortable with their finances and having a small, but nice home, to my father now going into a nursing home and likely lose everything he owns because of how expensive nursing care is. We are looking at $7k a month with zero assistance from Medicare and he has enough money that he doesn’t qualify for Medicaid but will burn through all his assets in just a short time. It’s ridiculous that people work hard and save and it’s all gone in a flash.

    fidodo,

    Let the debt die with him. Get that house into a trust, or out of his name however you can. Don’t let greedy corporations steal the generational wealth he worked hard for and surely wants to pass on, and not have taken away by the health care industry. A few grand on lawyers and accountants now will save you hundreds of thousands down the line.

    Socsa,

    Your father needs to put his assets into a trust ASAP then. Once he divests through the trust he will qualify for Medicaid. It’s unfortunate that we need to jump through these hoops, but it is what it is.

    fidodo,

    I’ve seen it go both ways. Things are so much better for the kids when assets are in a trust. Without it, I’ve seen people lose everything. Don’t give the dirty debt collectors a dime.

    CeruleanRuin,

    Because the system isn’t designed to work for even the upper middle class, or even the comfortably independently wealthy. The system is designed to continue diverting all of that hard work’s rewards towards the wealthiest tier of wealthy.

    Nobody is safe from this vampirism, not even those who would call themselves rich. As it is, wealth will always siphon down to the parasites at the bottom. We’ve all been fooled into thinking we’re at the bottom of a pyramid (or, if you’re lucky, somewhere in the middle), but it’s really just a funnel, sucking everything down to a single point.

    hark,
    @hark@lemmy.world avatar

    Sorry to hear about that. This is one reason why I wonder if it’s even worth saving for the future. Live the best life you can in your prime years and then let the pieces fall where they may in the end. You’ll qualify for more programs if you didn’t bother saving anyway.

    fidodo,

    If you want to pass on generational wealth you need a trust. It keeps those assets protected, and once you die the debt dies with you.

    monkeyslikebananas2,

    If you’re 40 or under it isn’t worth saving. Retirement is a Myth for Millennials onward. Unless we get UBI, everything is going to go tits up anyway.

    btaf45,

    If you’re 40 or under it isn’t worth saving.

    That is precisely the best time to save and invest.

    Sagifurius,

    How does giving everyone a UBI solve that we can’t afford to pay the old pensions now? Gonna tax the UBI to pay for it?

    stoly,

    Think of it as the circle of life. It’s basically what powered the Boomers–all those freeways and suburb projects put money in their pockets. You give UBI and you drastically reduce homelessness, allowing more people to participate in the economy. Those with good incomes won’t notice the UBI but for those without, it will save their lives.

    Sagifurius,

    that’s called “crippling national debt”

    stoly,

    Yet it has worked wonders everywhere it has been tried. Don’t mix up your hatred for taxes with the viability of public programs.

    Sagifurius,

    Yeah…I’m not American. “Works wonders everywhere it’s been tried” is a bit of an exaggeration, I’ve seen how this sort of thing goes.

    Olhonestjim,

    No, you haven’t.

    Sagifurius,

    You should read up on the ramifications of what amounted to an UBI test run in Canada over Covid. Phrases like “sold our future” appear too often.

    Olhonestjim,

    Yeah, I’m not gonna put much confidence in programs ran during the shit show known as COVID.

    You should look up, like, every other UBI experiment. Poorly run outliers do not a viable data point make.

    Sagifurius,

    Of course you’d deny the results of the biggest practical “test run”, and point to the small scale feasibility experiments. Why am I not surprised?

    31337,

    Dunno your country’s specifics, but in the U.S., the eventual social security deficits could be completely resolved by removing the caps on social security contributions.

    UBI could be payed for by a radically progressive tax structure similar to the U.S. tax structure in the 1950s.

    Sagifurius,

    I’ve looked that structure up before, it only worked if you paid yourself. They just plowed all the money straight back into business expenses or acquisition.

    31337,

    In the U.S., the difference between average and median income is ~$25k/yr, so, if my logic is correct, it should theoretically be possible to have an UBI of $25k/yr (which would bring the average income on top of UBI down to around the median).

    Sagifurius,

    Well, I’ll give you this. Most communists don’t actually admit they want to drag everyone down to their level. The honesty is refreshing. That’s not sarcasm, this is rare as hell.

    Socsa,

    This feels like a self fulfilling prophecy

    SaltySalamander,
    SaltySalamander avatar

    You've been given some horrible advice. That or you're just not very smart.

    monkeyslikebananas2,

    If you believe the same retirement options that were available for boomers is realistically available for younger people, I have a 401k to sell you and a Social Security check is in the mail.

    Without significant changes to the way we handle our economy no amount of savings now will make up for the shit that’s coming.

    That being said, it should be noted I have a good paying job, I have a 401k, I have investments and none of that is going to carry any of us through to the retirement expectations that we’re being sold.

    If you’re under 40, between automation and climate change, shit is going to get real very quickly.

    CeruleanRuin,

    Assuming those programs still exist by the time you get to that point.

    If the oligarchs continue to get their way, those programs will disappear. It doesn’t serve them to have a class of people whose labor or income they can’t exploit.

    preppietechie,
    @preppietechie@midwest.social avatar

    The real villains here are the absurdly rich. Especially those who find ways to pay less in taxes.

    The top 1% are the problem.

    Tax the rich.

    Facebones,

    Even as people starve, they’ll defend those absurdly rich folk because one day it’ll be them starving people out!

    CeruleanRuin,

    I hate this “I got mine”/“I’ll get mine” attitude. If I were wealthy, I’d gladly pay higher taxes to support social programs. Shouldn’t that be the whole point of accumulating wealth - to be able to give back? It should be hard-coded into the very structure of society.

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