Back in a simpler time, before the DOW Industrials, the Internet and even automobiles, people did not worry about retirement. You simply worked until you died. It was that easy. But the advances of the twentieth century have created a crux of new problems confronting us everyday. Advances in medicine, farming and technology are allowing people to live longer than ever before. Longer life expectancy has meant that America must confront the issue of funding retirement for our elderly.
When Social Security was enacted in 1935, Congress never foresaw the change in American demographics. Thanks, in large part, to the Baby Boomers; people over the age of 50 that are the fastest growing age group. It is this strain on the Social Security System that will create problems in the not too distant future. The Boomers are the last generation that has any real hope of seeing Social Security benefits. However, any Boomer who thinks Social Security will fund their retirement will have big surprises coming their way. It is imperative to save enough funds for your retirement.
Each American generation has faced different obstacles and experienced different life changing events. Each generation has begun saving earlier for retirement and is more educated, but the number of workers for each Social Security recipient is declining rapidly.
An overview of the American generations:
- GI Generation
This generation fought in World War II and survived most of the Depression in American history. They are extremely resilient, but untrusting of the markets and are often characterized by their frugality.
Average Age Started Saving for Retirement – Over 40
Workers per Social Security Recipient – 4 (1970)
Average Time Spent in Retirement – 9.5 Years
Famous Members – Ronald Reagan, Cary Grant and Bob Hope
- Silent Generation
Most of this generation never experienced the Depression and most of them were too young to fight in WWII. This generation was born at the right time.
Average Age Started Saving for Retirement – 43
Workers per Social Security Recipient – 3.5 (1990)
Average Time Spent in Retirement – 13 Years
Famous Members – Ross Perot, Walter Mondale and Mickey Mantle
- Baby Boomers
The children of the soldiers who returned from WWII, they grew up in suburbia and reaped its benefits. They also are the most indulgent generation in our country’s history, but they changed the social and political landscape.
Average Age Started Saving for Retirement – 31
Workers per Social Security Recipient – 3 (Projected 2010)
Average Time Spent in Retirement – 15 Years
Famous Members – Bill Clinton, Oliver Stone and Spike Lee
- Generation X
This generation missed the sixties and was forced to deal with divorce, TV and latchkey homes. This generation is fueling the explosion of the Internet and technology.
Average Age Started Saving for Retirement – 23
Workers per Social Security Recipient – 2 (Project 2030)
Average Time Spent in Retirement – 16 Years
Famous Members – Michael Dell, Tiger Woods and Matthew Broderick
Each generation is realizing the importance of saving for retirement earlier. A person who starts saving for retirement at age 23 as opposed to age 28 will have nearly 50 percent more funds to retire on at age 60. So, the most important lesson is not to rely on Social Security for your retirement and to begin saving early.