We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
The wonderful Nicole Gelinas has an essay up at City Journal which reviews the history of the idea of retirement (invented, as you know, during the Depression in an effort to move older folks out of the work force), and the financial challenges would-be retirees are facing today.
People, especially men, are postponing retirement.
As one of those cussed, cranky Yankee types who intends to die at his desk, I don't think much about it, but for those greying Boomers who aspire to exit the world of productivity, many of them have more debt and less assets than they thought they might have. A quote:
Thanks to Botox and treadmills, the boomers are aging well. Their finances? Not so much, as some Federal Reserve numbers show. Baby boomers, like most Americans, have seen no wage gains for two decades. In 2007, families headed by younger boomers—those aged 45 through 54—earned a median income of $64,200, almost exactly the same, in inflation-adjusted dollars, as families in the same age group earned in 1989. (The comparison doesn’t work well for the older boomers—those aged 55 through 64—because, as we’ll see, people are retiring later these days, which skews their incomes.)
Read the whole thing. I have often said that what people seek, more than retirement, is financial independence. When they have that, they enjoy working more.
No...the Boomer/Gen-X transition is with somebody at cognizant childhood (age 3-4) at the start of the cold war (though I prefer to use the Kennedy assassination [late 1963] as the defining date). Similarly, the Silent/Boomer transition would be kids age 3-4 at the end of WWII. So in generational theory terms, the Baby Boomers (Prophet Generation) were born 1943-1960 and are 52-68 years old right now.
In generational theory, birth cohorts are defined by the cultural environment in which they were raised from ages 3-4 to adulthood (~20). Boomers were the indulged children of the post-crisis (GD/WWII) high, while Gen-X were the (relatively) neglected children of the 60's awakening, and would basically hate everything about the boomers. E.g. - President Obama, who is most definitely a member of Gen-X (Nomad generation that follows the Prophet generation) both chronologically, temperamentally, and by life story (abandoned by parents [both at one time or another in his case], raised in multiple places, etc). He was born in 1961 and has pretty open dislike of everything Boomer (including his two predecessors, currently our only Boomer presidents).
This definition confuses most people, who buy (in the case of the Boomers) the number of births definition (though for the purposes of discussing effects on entitlement programs, the birth-number definition may be more relevant). Irregardless of the numbers, the Boomers are still a classic Prophet generational cohort with all the characteristics that would pertain to that cohort (Idealist) type. E.g. - The previous Prophet cohort [Missionary generation born after the Civil War, which was the driving force behind most the 1900-1920 progressive program [Income Tax, Woman's Suffrage, Prohibition].
See most any of Strauss and Howe's work for more details.
Soviet of Washington
Boomers understand they are a large cohort, but numbers isn't what defines them. As you said, it is childhood through early adulthood experiences. When I was 109 yrs old I was caught up in the second to last draft. Somebody 45 years old today would have been 3 or 4 years old at the time.
Further, their parents would have not been the WWII veterans like the boomers, instead they would have been the gap generation that were young children during that war, and young adults during Korea and the start of the Space Age.
I'm some what familiar with Strauss and Howe and don't find their arguments that compelling. I think they make a mistake common to social scientists -- they take an interesting observation and expand it to try to explain more than it warrants. Hence their erasing of the Gap Generation between the Greatest Generation and the Boomers -- no matter how little sense it makes they need to hammer generational boundaries to fit their theory.
I don't think people are necessarily skipping retirement; rather quite a few of them are pursuing full-time what was formerly a part-time enthusiasm. After a working lifetime of writing and editing, my husband immersed himself in his second interest of being a naturalist, studying polar bears and writing several books about them, as well as Arctic foxes and other groups of animals. This second career took him all over the globe until he reached the age of 80, at which point he switched over to photography and had to learn the mysteries of digital photography.
Nature took her revenge and afflicted him with arthritis, and now he is pretty much confined to home. But he is also interested in Southern history, and various aspects of our military history in this country and abroad.
Amazon looms large in our lives now, since we can order books to be delivered [love that part] as well as other things, like incandescent light bulbs, grocery stuff which I have forgotten to get on our regular grocery run, and such things as Ascriptin, an expertly buffered aspirin which I take one of every day.
Our UPS and Fed-EX guys have become new best friends, and they are a lot more pleasant and efficient than the US Posties.
Do you know, that we can remember when the post was delivered twice a day?