Record number of 65-year-olds will reshape the age milestone: WSJ

More than 11,000 people per day will reach 65 in 2024, and The Wall Street Journal explores the implications of a U.S. population that is quickly getting older

More Americans are reaching the milestone age of 65, and these people are redefining what 65 looks like in comparison to prior generations — with a raft of implications for American society. This is according to a recent story published by the The Wall Street Journal.

“Today’s 65-year-olds are redefining a milestone long associated with retirement parties and the end of productive years,” the article stated. “They are wealthier and by many measures, healthier, and expected to live another 20 years. A growing share are divorced. Many turn their focus to what they want in this next stage.”

More people reaching age 65 are looking ahead at what life will look like in the following decades, as opposed to prior generations of 65-year-olds who tended to look back on life and career milestones, according to Ken Dychtwald, CEO of consultancy Age Wave.

“They were winding down,” Dychtwald said of the parents and grandparents of today’s baby boomers.

According to Bipartisan Policy Center chief economist Jason Fichtner, 4.1 million Americans will turn 65 this year, a surge that is expected to continue through at least 2027.

“That is about 11,200 a day, compared with the 10,000 daily average from the previous decade,” Fichtner told the Journal.

In 2023, the share of older Americans who remained employed by the time they reached 65 had nearly doubled to 20%, according to December data from the Pew Research Center.

“Not only are older workers increasing in number, but their earning power has grown in recent decades. In 2022, the typical worker age 65 or older earned $22 per hour, up from $13 in 1987,” Pew reported. “Earnings for younger workers haven’t grown as much. As a result, the wage gap between older workers and those ages 25 to 64 has narrowed significantly.”

The driving factor behind a senior’s decision to remain in the workforce primarily comes down to addressing a monetary need, or continuing to work simply because they enjoy it, according to a representative of AARP. There is also a social component in which older workers want to continue to build connections and relationships.

There is also more wealth for the current cohort of 65-year-olds, according to the data.

“While significant disparities exist, the median net worth of those 65 to 74 was $410,000 in 2022, up from $282,270 in 2010 in inflation-adjusted 2022 dollars,” according to the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances.

That equates to a 45% increase in overall net worth, which can largely be attributed to rising home values and retirement account balances. But the gains did not materialize for all members of the baby boomer generation, with the Journal reporting that those 75 and older had a 13% gain in median net worth during the same period.

“Today’s 65-year-olds have more to spend now, but fewer have pensions that offer protected monthly income. They have to depend on savings, investments and Social Security to last, and cover expected rising caregiving costs,” according to Fichtner.

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