Aging boomer trends

Here are a couple of interesting (and troubling) posts about what aging boomers are up to.  First, the LA Times reports that, as predicted, the nation’s 77 million boomers are beginning to dump their stocks as they prepare for long retirements.  Just as the economy rose during the boomers’ productive years, experts are predicting a long slump as they begin to cash out:

The report’s basic premise is that stock prices “have been closely related to demographic trends in the past half century" — in other words, that baby boomers pushed up stock prices in earlier years as they hit their prime earning and saving years.

. . . .

Indeed, aside from being a longer-term depressant, selling by baby boomers -– the post-War contingent born between 1946 and 1964 –- could forestall any current-day recovery in the market from the global financial crisis.

And cashing out they are, according to this article from a Fox affiliate, reporting that many retiring boomers are also retiring the idea of leaving an inheritance:

"My goal is when they carry me away in that box that my bank account is going to say zero," Willison said. "I’m going to spoil myself now."
Upending the conventional notion of parents carefully tending their financial estates to be passed down at the reading of their wills, many baby boomers say they instead plan to spend the money on themselves while they’re alive.

In a survey of millionaire boomers by investment firm U.S. Trust, only 49% said it was important to leave money to their children when they die. The low rate was a big surprise for a company that for decades has advised wealthy people how to leave money to their heirs.

The article reports that many boomers feel they have pre-paid their children’s inheritance by helping them pay for college or a house.  Says one boomer:  "I’ve helped launch them with their education and their careers. If they can’t make it on their own now, they can never make it. I’ve done my job. Now I’m going to enjoy life." 

I can’t help wonder, though, how much the boomer generation—particularly, the leaders they helped elect—contributed to the high entry costs that make it so expensive for their children today to begin new careers, or contributed to the land use regulations that make it so expensive for their children to afford the kind of housing their parents had 30 or 40 years ago. 

I wish those boomers well who have earned and saved enough to enjoy a comfortable retirement.  Those they leave behind have no claim on them, and the boomers have every right to enjoy their rewards.  We might have liked, however, to have enjoyed more of the economic freedoms they had so that we might have a better chance at our own. 

[Cross-posted at the main page]

Tim Kowal

Tim Kowal is a husband, father, and attorney in Orange County, California, Vice President of the Orange County Federalist Society, commissioner on the OC Human Relations Commission, and Treasurer of Huntington Beach Tomorrow. The views expressed on this blog are his own. You can follow this blog via RSS, Facebook, or Twitter. Email is welcome at timkowal at


  1. This plays in to the myth that Boomers are the Most Selfish Generation. This myth may have resonance on the macro scale but I don’t think it has a lot of relevance to anything on the micro scale.

    If it’s true that Boomers are liquidating their stocks, then who is buying them? The answer is, Gen-X’ers and Gen-Y’ers, people of my generation and a few years younger, who are entering the higher-earning points of their career arcs — and they’re doing it both as individuals and through mutual funds. Where are the Boomers selling their stocks from? Mutual funds, for the most part.

    As for me, I’ve grown used to the idea that I will likely not be as prosperous as my parents were despite having more education under my belt. Different eras, different opportunities. Opportunities still exist. In my case, I’ve held an advanced professional degree for more than a third of my lifetime, so at this point I really need to look to myself and not to generational economic disparities if I find myself dissatisfied with where I am economically.

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