We are living longer, something to celebrate. The average life expectancy was about 62 years in 1935 when President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, and it’s now nearly 79 years. And, as in many things, the baby boomers are at the center of another revolution: unretirement.
Many boomers have the ability and the desire to work well into the traditional retirement years. For example, 72% of pre-retirees age 50 and over in a survey published in June by Merrill Lynch and the Age Wave consulting firm said they wanted to work in their retirement.
Yet the specter of an aging population haunts America. The leading edge of the boomer generation is filing for Social Security and Medicare, with some 10,000 boomers turning 65 every day. The dire demographics of aging seem to inform our discussions, from Senate hearings on retirement to Wall Street research on the economy. Our public discourse about an aging society is along the lines of fear and loathing, paraphrasing the late gonzo writer and baby boom legend Hunter S. Thompson.