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Boomer Wealth: Beware of the Median

Analysts, pundits and the news media frequently express concern that boomers are not prepared financially to manage their retirement. Numerous reports suggest that boomers have retirement savings in the range of $50,000 or less. These reports underestimate the amounts that boomers have and are likely to have at retirement.

The oldest boomers have significantly more than younger boomers, and those closest to retirement still have several more years to work and accumulate assets. Boomer families with median incomes have total net worth that would make an adequate retirement replacement rate achievable if they work to the Social Security normal retirement age rather than to age 62.

Several caveats are in order, however. Boomers will face higher risks than previous generations because they have to manage their own retirement assets in the face of a future of lower interest rates, they will live longer and therefore have to manage assets longer, and they will have to contend with higher costs for Medicare premiums.

Despite these caveats, total wealth measures suggest a somewhat more sanguine outlook for boomer retirement than is suggested by focusing solely on the amounts in their retirement accounts. (6 pages)

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