What Golden Years?

seniors jumping on bedIt’s tough enough that boomers need to keep working because of shrunken retirement funds, but even worse when we’re accused of preventing the next generation from assuming our jobs.

Edward P. Glaeser is a professor of economics at Harvard and the author of “Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier and Happier.” He wrote a piece for the New York Times titled Goodbye, Golden Years.

So when he says that it’s a myth that boomers are robbing younger workers of their chance to move up, we should listen.

Glaeser notes that boomers keep working because they believe they cannot afford to stop. About 40 percent of 55 to 64 year-olds do not have retirement accounts. Almost a quarter do not even own stocks or savings bonds. Their median net worth is now $254,000 (including housing), which is down from $273,000 just three years ago.

But Glaeser thinks that boomers remaining in the workplace may turn out to be a good thing for young workers, even if it sounds counterintuitive. Boomers may crowd out younger workers in some instances, but asolder workers continue to earn wages, they buy more products produced by younger workers. Boomers will also continue to pay taxes that help our overall fiscal problems gold nesteggwhile they bring a diversity of perspective and experience to theworkplace.

Glaeser’s hope is that older workers, who may be more inclined to be entrepreneurial, will start new businesses. Statistically, the older you are, the more likely you are to become self-employed. And that self-employmentin turn can generate jobs and taxes.

Maybe the whole idea of retirement at 62 or 65 was a mid-century aberration. It was not always a foregone conclusion thatworkers would throw in the towel as soon as they hit the magic number.

If boomers find fulfilling work or self-employment well into their 70s, they just might find that the golden years are golden after all. Or at the very least, a little more time to earn some green.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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