What Do Leading-Edge Baby Boomers Want and Need?

What Do Leading-Edge Baby Boomers Want and Need?
John McIlwain
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The nation continues to grapple with the implications of the Baby Boomers aging, as laid out in the 2012 report Housing in America: The Baby Boomers Turn 65. In 2012, the vast majority of people over age 65 were the Silent Generation (67-84) and the Greatest Generation (85+), with "Leading Edge" Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1956) entering these age groups in growing numbers each year. This cohort is now 56 to 66 years old, and they are healthier and more energetic than any previous generation was at their age. Leading Edge Boomers are expected to be active for much longer than previous generations, which will have implications for families, communities, and housing.

Major findings:

  • Leading-Edge Boomers are expected to be active for a decade longer than prior generations, and therefore move into traditional senior housing much later.
  • Leading-Edge Boomers have saved less for retirement and carry greater debt loads than the two generations preceding them.
  • During the Great Recession, many Leading-Edge Boomers owed more on their mortgages than their homes were worth and were unable to move.
  • Leading-Edge Boomers prefer to age in place rather than enter retirement communities, which is leading to “naturally occurring retirement communities” (NORCs).
  • Without community leadership, the senior-focused priorities in NORCs are likely to conflict with the surrounding family-centric communities, particularly with regard to allocating limited public resources for schools or services.