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edited by Bruce Kauffman

December 2007
December news and trends about life as Boomers

The mind on upswing along with chronology…
Research gathered up by the Wall Street Journal suggests that our mental faculties hold up well into old age, even improve. The brain of the older person, says University of Illinois researcher Arthur Kramer, is highly attuned to solving real-life problems quickly. He says boomers need not worry too much about losing the knack to recall facts and figures or that talent for finding just the right word to say what they want to say. 

Look at musicians, researchers say. They start off by identifying a note on a staff and then figuring out where to find it on their instrument. At some point, though, the brain takes it in and the right note gets ht automatically. It’d be a similar notion for, say, an investor studying a prospectus: after a while, because he’s done it so many times, the automatic pilot kicks in and leads him right away to just what he needs to know.

Scientists say these autonomic mental gymnastics don’t necessarily weaken with age.

The calculators of Oz…
A word of caution is being issued about those calculators offered online by the big financial institutions so you can figure out how much you need for retirement.

Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff says the online devices lead people to overestimate what they’ll spend in retirement and what their insurance will cost.

His 2006 study also suggests that the online programs encourage pre-retirement boomers to actually save too much, taking on more investment risk than necessary to meet their savings goals.

And be on the lookout for minor miscalculations, he says. A small mistake at the start, compounded over many years, can lead to “enormous” disruptions in the income level you need to maintain your standard of living.
Caveat?  The professor doubles as an entrepreneur, marketing software he says uses far more realistic numbers to calculate your retirement requirements.

Gathering Storm…
Boomers would stay on the job working flexible hours so they can hold onto health and retirement benefits under a bill in Congress that rewards their employers with tax breaks in return.

It's all about keeping boomers working to avert a critical labor shortage as we retire, says the sponsor, Wisconsin Democrat Herb Kohl. 

The boomers’ rush to retirement, he says, drains talent from the workplace and dramatically slows down economic growth. This is turning the well-wrought argument --- that the coming wave of retirees burdens the country down because of the costs of providing Social Security and Medicare --- on its head.

Oregon Senator Gordon Smith says the boomer flight from the workplace, coupled with longer life spans and lower nationwide birth rates, are the perfect mix for a "demographic tsunami."

Whether boomers will stay on the job long enough to ease the storm’s severity is unclear. In surveys, boomers tend to say they want to postpone retirement because their jobs give them both social engagement and bigger nest eggs. On the other hand, they feel driven away from the work place by rigid schedules and curtailed benefits. 

What do folks think of the boomers, anyway…? 
Ohio University and the Scripps-Howard News Service asked people from three generations --- the silents, born between 1925 and 1942; us, born from 1946 to 1964; and Generation X, born since 1965 --- how they all shaped up by comparison.
Two out of three people --- 66 percent--- say the boomers’ have made a positive impact on the nation, while 77 say that’s more true for the silent generation. Thirty-two percent say the boomers are the most generous of three groups, and 41 percent give that distinction to the silents.

 More people say the boomers had the best music of all, and maybe it’s something to do with the tunes, but most people think that the boomers have had the most fun in their lives of all three groups.

— edited by Bruce Kauffman

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