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What It Means

As the baby boom generation -- those born between 1946 and 1964 -- reaches retirement age, the growth of the elderly population -- 65 and older -- is expected to accelerate rapidly.

The proportion of Connecticut's population classified as elderly is expected to increase from 14.3 percent in 1995 to 18 percent in 2025.

Among the 50 states and District of Columbia, Connecticut had the ninth highest proportion of elderly in 1995 and is expected to have the 38th highest proportion of elderly in 2025.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau


As reported by the Norwich Bulletin, June 13, 2006.

As Baby Boomers Age, Many Cling to Youth

By Julie A. Varughese

The movers and shakers of the baby boomer generation aren't going to cash in their retirement savings just yet.

The first set of 78 million baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, are turning 60 this year.

But with the traditional retirement age of 65 looming not too far in the future, it doesn't seem many boomers, such as 57-year-old attorney Stuart Norman Jr. of Jewett City, will take their sunset years sitting down -- at least not in a rocking chair.

Norman said he won't retire for another 20 years and can't picture himself going to a senior center.

Dr. George Kuchel, a physician and director of the University of Connecticut Center on Aging, said boomers are very different from those of the previous generation because of their go-getter attitude toward their health.

"People are increasingly healthy and many people are not ready to retire," he said. "They may retire from one position at 65, only to take on another."

Kuchel said boomers also tend to have higher expectations of their health and health care and have been very proactive.

"Their parents and grandparents accepted aging as a time of slowing down and were very accepting of the problems that aging brings," he said. "As a generation, they have not taken issues of their health and empowerment lying down. I think they're going to go down fighting."

Financial security is another issue on boomers' minds.

Norman, the Jewett City attorney, said boomers he knows are so busy and are worried about having enough money saved up for retirement, they probably can't think about what they'll do when they retire.

Years ago, if a person worked at a large company, he or she likely left with a pension plan, providing them with a steady monthly income.

UConn finance professor Shantaram Hegde said the percentage of corporations offering defined benefit plans --also known as pension plans -- has declined in the past five years. About 35 percent of corporations provide such plans, he said.

Hegde said with Social Security's uncertain future, fewer companies contributing to pension plans and expected lower rates of return on investments, boomers are "sandwiched pretty hard. They will live longer with less to live on."

His advice to boomers: "Save more or retire late or do both."

Jerry Fischer, 56, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Southeastern Connecticut, said he doesn't see himself retiring in the near future.

"I'll be 85 before I use the senior center, maybe 80," he said. "I plan to work until I'm 75 or 80 because I'm a very social guy."

Linda Fisher, director of national member research at AARP, said boomers' attitudes toward retirement vary greatly depending on their income levels.

But the thought of retiring or being a "senior" just doesn't mesh in boomers' minds.

"Boomers are not going to react well to the word 'senior,'" Fisher said. "We feel like it's off-putting. It kind of says 'old.'"

Instead, "wellness centers" have sprung up across the country, staying open in the evenings for busy boomers and offering more high-impact exercise classes.

State Rep. Steve Mikutel, D-Griswold, 56, a state legislator who has been active in Griswold town politics since 1977, ran a construction business in his early 20s and worked in human resources for private firms and the state.

He has also been a financial consultant for 25 years and probably will be one even if he doesn't remain a state representative.

"I'm not going to be someone who sits in a rocking chair and watches time go by," he said.

By The Numbers

  • 78.2 million: Estimated baby boomers, as of July 1, 2005.
  • 7,918: People turning 60 each day in 2006, according to projections. That amounts to 330 every hour.
  • James and Mary: Most popular baby names for boys and girls, respectively, in 1946. Today, the names Jacob and Emily lead the list; James ranks 17th among boys and Mary is 63rd among girls.
  • 50.8 percent: Percentage of women baby boomers in 2005.
  • 9.1 million: Estimated baby boomers in 2004 who were black. Also, 8 million boomers were Hispanic (of any race).
  • 141 million: Estimated U.S. population in 1946. Today, the nation's population stands at about 298 million.
  • 33 percent and 5 percent: The proportions of adults age 25 and older with at least a high school diploma and at least a bachelor's degree, respectively, in 1947. By 2004, the respective proportions had risen to 85 percent and 28 percent.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

  • $2,695: Average annual expenditures on health care in 2004 for people ages 45 to 54 -- the age group that is the heart of the baby boom generation. When budgeting medical expenses, baby boomers should expect increased health-care spending as they age; for instance, those age 55 to 64 spent $3,262 and those 65 and older, $3,899.
  • 57.8 million: Baby boomers living in 2030, according to projections; 54.9 percent would be female. That year, boomers would be between ages 66 and 84.
  • 2.1: Workers for each Social Security beneficiary in 2031, when all baby boomers will be older than 65. There are 3.3 workers for each Social Security beneficiary today.
  • 4,041: Continuing care retirement facilities in 2003. Many boomers could have parents in need of such facilities or may have to move into such a facility themselves.
  • 32 percent: Proportion of Alaska's population that was part of the baby boom generation, as of the last census. Baby boomers also comprised 30 percent or more of the population in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. In contrast, Utah (23 percent) was the only state where baby boomers constituted less than 25 percent.