For the past few years, baby boomers have been telling survey-takers that they plan to work until they drop, an attitude that undoubtedly could be tied to the recession that cost many their jobs, the housing crisis that devalued their homes, and the stock market crash that wiped out their retirement savings. "Keep working or eat cat food in retirement" should have been made into a bumper sticker.
But a new study -- albeit a small one -- says that's not actually what's happening.
The MetLife Mature Market Institute found that more than half of the oldest boomers -- people now 67 -- are now fully retired. When asked why, 38 percent of the 1,000 respondents said they were simply ready; 17 percent cited health reasons; and only 10 percent said they retired because they lost their job.
As for the other 48 percent of those born in 1946: 21 percent remain working full-time and 14 percent are working part-time. The new figures from the MetLife Mature Market Institute are a big jump since 2007 and 2008 when just 19 percent of the oldest Boomers were retired and a significant leap from the 45 percent retired in 2011.
The current study has tracked the group as they've moved from age 62 to 67, their finances, housing status, family lives and their views on generational issues. Although the majority of those retired say they have less income than they did when they were working, their lower income does not always equal a lower standard of living; only 20 percent said they thought theirs had declined.
"As oldest boomers dive into retirement, even though some have been forced to do so earlier than expected, they seem to be 'feelin' groovy,' as this group would have said during their formative years," said Sandra Timmermann, director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute. "They are poised to remain active and engaged. As their nests empty they seem to be largely feeling healthy and positive."
If you need something else to feel groovy about, the study also found that only eight percent were upside down on their mortgages and more than 40 percent of the oldest boomers reported being optimistic about the future.