The largest and most influential age group in Australia is set to start leaving the paid workforce during the next 20 years. The so-called ‘baby boomer’ generation, made up of almost 5.6 million Australians born between 1946 and 1965, is now aged in their 50s and 60s – over 800 baby boomers are turning 50 each day.
The baby boom generation is surviving to older ages in fast growing numbers. It is also a distinctive group – reportedly being healthier, more active, better educated and with higher expectations than previous generations.
Currently, more than a quarter of Australians are baby boomers and, perhaps more tellingly, one in three Australian workers are baby boomers.
In 2011, over 200,000 baby boomers will be 65 and be eligible for the age pension setting off a wave of increased demands on economic, healthcare and social programs. By 2030, all baby boomers will be 65 or older.
The retirement plans of baby boomers and the associated challenges and consequences present Australia with an unprecedented scenario. However, there is surprisingly little empirical evidence on how baby boomers are likely to behave in their later years to assist their retirement preparation.
This brief report, drawing on research undertaken over the last four years, was prepared to provide a timely summary of existing knowledge about the retirement plans and expectations of the nation’s baby boomers. Many of these studies were conducted before the global financial crisis and recent changes to the age pension eligibility age - which we are finding are changing what baby boomers have to say about their preparation for later life.
It is a mistake to think of baby boomers as all alike, they are as diverse as any other Australian generation. It is hoped that the information provided here will assist Australian policy makers and service providers in recognising the differences among baby boomers and understanding the truth behind the myths.
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