“The MetLife Report on Early Boomers: How America’s Leading Edge Baby Boomers Will Transform Aging, Work & Retirement” contains startling news for the first group of Boomers to enter retirement, and likely those who will follow. It says those born between 1946 and 1955 will transform the American concept of retirement by forgoing the tradition of a leisure-filled life. Instead, their financial obligations among other things will encourage many of them to remain in the workforce, some indefinitely.

Many Boomers are unable to retire as anticipated, the study says, because they may have debt from putting their children through college, borrowing against their homes and, in many cases, second home ownership. Since they expect to live longer than their predecessors, they fear outliving their savings, and their financial nest eggs have been severely impacted by low interest rates and an uncooperative stock market. Their family finances have also been stretched by the fact that one in four have adult children still living with them.

“This group of highly educated individuals is also apt to find a welcoming employment market where their experience is desirable and where employers will recognize that they do not require benefits like health insurance due to their eligibility for Medicare,” said Sandra Timmermann, Ed.D., director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute. “The preponderance of white-collar workers in this group will also make it easier for them to continue working,” she said.

The report, co-authored by noted American demographics expert Peter Francese, also notes that in the past about three-quarters of men and women would be fully retired within four to five years from their 65th birthday. But by the time the first Early Boomers approach age 70, fewer than half of those ages 65 to 69 will have retired. It is also reported that Early Boomers, now numbering 36 million, have swelled the 55 to 64 age cohort more in the past decade than in the previous 30 years and made that cohort the largest it has ever been.

“The Leading Edge Boomers have a tradition of being trailblazers and their entry into the 65-plus generation keeps that reputation alive,” said Peter Francese. “This group was among the first for whom college education was commonplace. They were also among the first to have a sense that their lives would be better than those of their parents. While their retirement years will be met by financial challenges, they may end up having more social and personal fulfillment than that of their parents through their continued presence in the workplace.”

The report’s key findings are as follows:

  • Over the next 10 years aging Early Boomers will result in a 50% rise in the number of people 65 to 74 years old, a growth rate for that cohort not seen in 50 years.
  • Early Boomer men ages 60 to 64 have the highest level of educational attainment (37% college graduates) of any age group of men, which means they are more likely to work after age 65.
  • There are 1.3 million more Early Boomer women than men. It is projected that by 2020 there will be 2 million more Early Boomer women than men. By then at least one-third of households ages 65 to 74 will be headed by women.
  • The Census Bureau reported that in 2009 one in four Early Boomer families had one or more of their children living with them and that most of those children were adults.
  • It is estimated that at least two-thirds of Early Boomers are grandparents and the Census Bureau reports a rising number are responsible for their grandchildren.
  • The labor force participation rate of Early Boomer men and women is at a 15-year high (65.2%); trends suggest that it will rise further in the future.
  • Among working Early Boomers, three-quarters of women and three-fifths of men had white-collar jobs that paid more than other jobs and were less physically demanding. That will certainly facilitate more of them staying in the workforce over the next decade.

“The MetLife Report on Early Boomers: How America’s Leading Edge Baby Boomers Will Transform Aging, Work & Retirement” can be downloaded from www.MatureMarketInstitute.com. It can also be ordered by e-mailing MatureMarketInstitute@metlife.com or by writing to: MetLife Mature Market Institute, 57 Greens Farms Road, Westport, CT 06880.

For more information about the MMI, please visit: www.MatureMarketInstitute.com.

Peter Francese
Peter Francese is a widely recognized demographics trends expert. He was the founder of American Demographics Magazine and speaks and writes frequently on consumer trends. Francese has authored several books as well as articles and special reports on how to better understand consumer markets. His most recent book, with co-author Lorraine Stuart Merrill, Communities & Consequences, is on the future of New Hampshire. Francese is the recipient of the Silver Bell Award from the Advertising Council for distinguished public service and holds a graduate degree from Cornell University. He lives and works in Exeter, New Hampshire.

The MetLife Mature Market Institute®
Established in 1997, the Mature Market Institute (MMI) is MetLife’s research organization and a recognized thought leader on the multi-dimensional and multi-generational issues of aging and longevity. MMI’s groundbreaking research, gerontology expertise, national partnerships, and educational materials work to expand the knowledge and choices for those in, approaching, or caring for those in the mature market.

MMI supports MetLife’s long-standing commitment to identifying emerging issues and innovative solutions for the challenges of life. MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET), through its subsidiaries and affiliates, is a leading provider of insurance, employee benefits and financial services with operations throughout the United States and the Latin American, Europe and Asia Pacific regions.


DJC Communications
Debra Caruso
Shalana Morris
Joseph Madden