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Baby Boomers Envision What's Next?

As boomers approach retirement they are less confident about financing their retirement through their own savings or pensions. They are more likely to expect to rely on Social Security. Their health is also declining. As a result they are less optimistic about their retirement, and now have lowered expectations. They anticipate working longer, at least on a part-time basis, for the additional income. This is especially true among working boomers with lower incomes.  The recession and financial meltdown have played a role in this pessimism, since attitudes were fairly stable between 1998 and 2003, but have turned more negative this year.

Boomers vary a great deal in their retirement planning and expectations, with health and personal finances playing a critical role. More affluent and healthy boomers are more positive about their retirement years, whether they plan to gradually transition to full retirement or go directly from full time work to total retirement.
Boomers with fewer financial resources and more health problems, and those who have suffered more negative life events (serious illness, death of a spouse, loss of a job) are pessimistic about the future. The gap between these two groups continues to widen.

Retired boomers are fairly satisfied and pleasantly surprised by their retirement, despite having less money than they anticipated and being in poorer health. Personal freedom, the opportunity to spend more time with their families, and good access to health care are factors in this satisfaction. Retired boomers are spending their free time much like other generations of retirees, with more emphasis on home-based, value-centered activities like watching TV, cooking, and reading. They strongly advise those still in the workforce to save more and to plan on working longer in order to more fully enjoy their retirement years.

Roper GfK conducted this telephone survey of 1,200 boomers aged 46-65, both retired (249 respondents) and non-retired (954 respondents) from February 1 through March 1, 2011.