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posted on 05 March 2016

Are We Saving Enough? Households And Retirement

from the Richmond Fed

-- this post authored by John Weinberg and Doug Campbell

On October 15 of last year, a retired school teacher from Earleville, Maryland, sat down at a computer terminal and typed responses to four "yes" or "no" questions, beginning with, "Are you at least 61 years and 9 months old?" In answering affirmatively, Kathleen Casey-Kirschling made history.

Born one second after midnight New Year's Day, 1946, she was the first of the 78-million-member baby boom generation to apply for Social Security benefits. She became eligible to collect with the turn of 2008.

The reason Casey-Kirschling's otherwise everyday act made news is no mystery. In part because there are so many baby boomers relative to the overall population, Social Security payments to retirees are projected to exceed payroll tax revenues in less than 10 years. By 2041, benefits will have to decline, or taxes or government borrowing will have to increase. In the case of Medicare, the health care insurance system for the American elderly, similar changes are expected to be necessary as early as 2019.

The baby boom generation's retirement brings into focus perhaps the most significant demographic shift in United States history. Baby boomers, the moniker for the generation born between 1946 and 1964, comprise about 26 percent of the overall U.S. population. Their sheer numbers assure that future growth in the labor force will slow by comparison to recent decades. The birth rate seems unlikely to ever spike up to that experienced in the 1950s, and life expectancy continues to increase.

[click on image below to continue reading]

Source: richmondfedorg/ publications/ research/ economic_quarterly/ 2015/q2/2007.pdf

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