heck out Ken Dychtwald and Bob Morison's new book: What Retirees Want: A Holistic View of Life's Third Age
We’ve heard a lot lately about how the Covid-19 pandemic is dramatically disrupting the retirement preparations of tens of millions of working Americans. Being furloughed from work or having your small business fail is causing people to dip into savings and interrupts putting money aside toward retirement. Those closest to retiring can be in the biggest bind, and many are choosing to delay retirement to fill their growing financial gap.
But how is the pandemic affecting folks who are already retired – or even the lifestage of retirement itself?
The short answer is that Covid-19 clearly poses a major threat to the health of older people, and it has disrupted the lives and activities of retirees just like everyone else. It’s almost as though the entire world has had a collective near-death experience – with everyone realizing that a part of their life has died, and they themselves, or their loved ones, may be at higher risk than they were a few short months ago.
However, as backdrop to this disrupting pandemic, retirement was already undergoing an enormous transformation before the coronavirus struck, and it’s continuing today. This transformation is driven by the aging Baby Boomers, who have been retiring at the rate of about 10,000 a day for more than five years. Several seismic forces are at play – medical, demographic, economic, and social.
Life is longer – and longer. The life expectancy of Americans increased by 64% in the last century (from 47 to 77) and continues to rise, with some trend-watchers speculating that due to coming breakthroughs in exponential medicine, half of the kids born today will live to see their 150th birthdays. Driven by the longevity revolution, the timing and character of aging continues to evolve fast. What does it mean to be “old” today? And when does that happen? 65? 75? 85?
The age wave is here.
Who’s got the money?
Not your grandparents’ retirement. Driven by strength of numbers, willingness to experiment, and commitment to causes including civil, women’s, and gay rights, the Boomers have reoriented American society at each stage of life through which they’ve migrated. They have watched their grandparents and parents try to make sense of what to do in retirement, where to live, and what’s the point of longevity. Now, true to form, they want to retire differently. They want more action and excitement, and they enjoy more choices in lifestyle, location, leisure, and other realms. Rather than winding down, they want to reinvent themselves. As they steadily replace the older and more staid generation of retirees, the entire lifescape of retirement will change in every conceivable way.
What is Covid-19 telling us about the state of retirement today? Here are three lessons.
First, retirees enjoy many advantages.
Second, working in retirement is here to stay. Before the pandemic, 70% of Boomers said they expected to work past age 65, were already doing so, or did not plan to retire at all.
Third, the essence of retirement is freedom. It’s not just the scaling down or ending of work. It’s a period in life where, for most, there’s far more freedom than ever before. In the U.S. alone, over the next twenty years, Boomers will have a surge of time affluence with 2 ½ trillion hours of leisure time to fill.
This is the first in a 10-part series on “The Future of Retirement” that we will be posting over the next several months. If you are interested in better understanding what’s ahead – we invite you to check out our new book What Retirees Want: A Holistic View of Life’s Third Age.