For Those Turning 65, a Very Different Golden Years Await

In 2024, nearly 4.1M seniors will hit this milestone
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 25, 2024 5:00 PM CST
For Biggest Group to Turn 65, Golden Years Look Different
   (Getty / Sam Edwards)

This year, we'll be donning birthday hats for more people turning 65 in the US than at any other time in history, in what the AARP is calling the "silver tsunami." And the nearly 4.1 million seniors celebrating this milestone are doing things a bit differently than their parents were at the same age. "I'm not winding down," Robin Darrow, a VP of sales and marketing who will turn 65 this year, tells the Wall Street Journal. "I'm just starting." She's far from alone. Here's what makes these younger boomers different as they reach their mid-sixties.

  • Retirement? What retirement? Like Darrow, many people turning 65 won't be getting a gold watch and pat on the back anytime soon. The Journal says 20% of Americans 65 and up are still clocking in, either to pad their savings (or lack thereof), or because they like their jobs. Within that group, two-thirds are working full-time.
  • It's not time to collect. Per Axios, the current cohort turning 65 isn't eligible to collect full Social Security benefits just yet (they must wait until they're nearly 67, 23 months longer than their parents, the AARP notes). Companies have done away with pension plans over the years, another benefit older generations enjoyed.
  • But they've got bank. While disparities exist, this group is wealthier going into their golden years, with a median net worth of people 65 to 74 at $410,000 in 2022 (up from $282,270 in 2010, adjusted for inflation). Ben Harris of the Retirement Security Project at Brookings Institution calls this one of the "untold success stories" of the modern economy.
  • And they're living longer. Back in 1959, 65-year-old men could expect to live another 13.1 years, and women 15.9 years, on average, the AARP notes. Today, seniors have longer life expectancies, 18.3 years for men, and 20.9 for women. "People are living longer, and they have, in general, less disability compared to 20 or 25 years ago," says Don Scott of the University of Georgia, who attributes healthier eating habits and lifestyles along with more health screenings to this increased longevity.
  • More seniors are living single. Thirty percent of people over the age of 50 are single, and the divorce rates have tripled for adults 65 and up in the last 30 years, reports Kiplinger. Sociologist Susan Brown says this could be due to people living longer, and not wanting to be stuck in unhappy marriage. "Americans prize independence and autonomy," she told the Journal.
  • Riding the wave. The silver tsunami isn't slowing down—through 2027, adults turning 65 will hit or exceed the 4.1 million mark.
(More baby boomer stories.)

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