Workforce and Retiree Demographics Will Shift as Boomers Age

A report from the MetLife Mature Market Institute says those born between 1946 and 1955 will transform the traditional concept of retirement.

Many Boomers are unable to retire as anticipated, the study shows, due to several possible reasons, including: debt from putting their children through college, borrowing against their homes and, in many cases, second home ownership.  Since they expect to live longer than their predecessors, they fear outliving their savings, and their financial nest eggs have been severely impacted by the economic downturn. In addition, their family finances have also been stretched by the fact that one in four have adult children still living with them.  

The report, “The MetLife Report on Early Boomers: How America’s Leading Edge Baby Boomers Will Transform Aging, Work & Retirement,” also notes that in the past, about three-quarters of men and women would be fully retired within four to five years from their 65th birthday.  But by the time the first Early Boomers approach age 70, fewer than half of those ages 65 to 69 will have retired. Early Boomers, now numbering 36 million, have swelled the 55 to 64 age demographic more in the past decade than in the previous 30 years and made that group the largest it has ever been.  

“This group of highly educated individuals is also apt to find a welcoming employment market where their experience is desirable and where employers will recognize that they do not require benefits like health insurance due to their eligibility for Medicare,” said Sandra Timmermann,  director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute, in the press release.  “The preponderance of white-collar workers in this group will also make it easier for them to continue working.”  

Key findings of the study include: 

  • Over the next 10 years aging Early Boomers will result in a 50% rise in the number of people 65 to 74 years old, a growth rate for that cohort not seen in 50 years. 
  • Early Boomer men ages 60 to 64 have the highest level of educational attainment (37% college graduates) of any age group of men, which means they are more likely to work after age 65. 
  • There are 1.3 million more Early Boomer women than men. It is projected that by 2020 there will be 2 million more Early Boomer women than men. By then at least one-third of households ages 65 to 74 will be headed by women. 
  • It is estimated that at least two-thirds of Early Boomers are grandparents and the Census Bureau reports a rising number are responsible for their grandchildren. 
  • The labor force participation rate of Early Boomer men and women is at a 15-year high (65.2%); trends suggest that it will rise further in the future. 
  • Among working Early Boomers, three-quarters of women and three-fifths of men had white-collar jobs that paid more than other jobs and were less physically demanding. That will facilitate more of them staying in the workforce over the next decade.  


The report can be downloaded from or ordered by e-mailing or by writing to: MetLife Mature Market Institute, 57 Greens Farms Road, Westport, CT 06880.