MetLife Finds ‘Middle’ Boomers Behind on Savings Goals

Although Baby Boomers are typically treated as one big generation, they actually comprise three different demographic groups, according to a new study from the MetLife Mature Market Institute.

“The MetLife Study of Boomers in the Middle” focused on individuals now 52 to 58 years old and found that, from a business and financial standpoint, the Middle Boomers are looking forward to retirement (setting their sights on age 65), have a high net worth ($100,000 or more, excluding their home value) and are currently in their peak earning years. On the other hand, according to a press release, more than half (54%) say they are behind on their retirement savings goals, and many who have delayed retirement have been affected by the economy.

Most respondents indicated they will rely on Social Security for their retirement income (42% of it, on average). A majority own their own homes, which are worth an average of $273,000, and have an average of six financial products, according to the survey.
One-third of the Middle Boomers expect to receive an inheritance from their parents of an average $181,000, slightly less than the Oldest Boomers and behind the Youngest Boomers, who expect $208,000.

Middle Boomers reported they have experienced a shift in their life priorities in the past five to 10 years—concentrating more on family, financial security, personal well-being, and wellness.

Other characteristics of Middle Boomers the study found include:

  • Turning age 50 was no big deal for the majority of Middle Boomers and they will not consider themselves “old” until age 75. That’s older than the age selected by the Youngest Boomers (age 71), but younger than age 78, selected by the Oldest Boomers.
  • Seventy-one percent of this group are married or in domestic partnerships. Husbands are generally two years older than wives. Twelve percent are divorced or separated, 4% are widowed, and 13% have never been married. Those who are divorced have the most concerns about retirement and income.
  • Like the Oldest and Youngest Boomers, the middle group report they are healthy, with more than half (56%) saying their health is very good to excellent. Looking ahead, though, 26% of those who are healthy say their biggest retirement concern will be affordable health care.
  • Two-thirds of the Middle Boomers report having at least one parent still living, and half still have children living at home. About half also have grandchildren. Seventy-two percent have been providing financial assistance and support to their children and grandchildren, averaging about $38,000 over the past five years. They are not yet empty nesters like the Older Boomers. Fourteen percent are providing care to older parents.
  • The survey was conducted by GfK Customer Research North America on behalf of the MetLife Mature Market Institute in late November/early December 2009, among 1,000 respondents born between 1952 and 1958.