NPR: Baby Boomer Money Squeeze Worsens, Multi-Gen Households Rise

In the United States, financial problems stemming from the aging baby boomer generation are only going to get worse, says NPR in its Family Matters series, and more households are becoming multigenerational to try to compensate. 

Roughly 78 million boomers are entering their retirement years, and while they’re “young” seniors now, their health likely won’t last—and neither will their resources. 

For individuals, families, local government officials and federal taxpayers, this demographic shift will drain dollars and attention, and force extremely difficult decisions about living arrangements, as well as end-of-life care.

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More than 50 million Americans reside in multigenerational homes. And in many of these households, middle-aged “children” are caring for elderly parents, as well as providing shelter for their own grown children. In many cases, family members are making big financial sacrifices to help each other.

But the squeeze may get even tighter for future households because boomers generally had fewer children, and more divorces, compared with the World War II generation. A Pew Research Center analysis of census data found that the boomer generation “offers its elderly parents about 50 percent more grown children with whom they can share a household.”

Providing aging Americans with long-term care “is a bona fide need and growing concern,” said David Walker, a former U.S. comptroller general and an expert on federal spending. “But we have to recognize that the U.S. government has overpromised in the area of health care. We can’t make more entitlement promises.”

About 20% of older people are now living with another generation—a number that’s expected to keep rising, says NPR. But individual solutions like doubling up to save on living costs won’t be enough to cover “the trillions of dollars that would be needed to hire all of the care needed to cope with all of the long-lived elderly,” and people need to start saving today to help themselves in the future. 

“Government has grown too big, promised too much and waited too long to restructure,” David Walker, a former U.S. Comptroller general and expert on federal spending is quoted as saying in the article. “It is going to spend less over time … which means that individuals will have to plan, save and invest for the future.”

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Written by Alyssa Gerace

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