2011 marks a milestone for one of the most discussed generations — the Baby Boomers. This year, the Boomers began turning 65 years old. As they enter this golden stage of life, how optimistic are they about their future?
When it comes to their retirement years, a majority of Baby Boomers — 54% — believe they will be less comfortable than other generations before them. In fact, Boomers are the generation who is least optimistic about post retirement life. Nearly half — 48% — of Millennials and a plurality — 44% — of Gen Xers believe retirement will be more difficult compared with previous generations. Only the Silent-Greatest generation has a more positive outlook. Nearly four in ten in this group — 39% — say they are more comfortable than generations who preceded them. 37% say they are about as comfortable.
Among Americans overall — 44% — report their retirement years will be more trying compared with about one-third — 33% — who say they anticipate those years will be about as comfortable as those who retired before them. 22% believe they will have it easier than their predecessors.
Looking Back to the Future: Hope for a Cure
When they were teenagers, four in ten Baby Boomers — 40% — thought a cure for cancer would be discovered by the time they were 65. 21% thought poverty or hunger would be ended, 18% believed there would be an end to war, and an additional 12% predicted a clean environment around the globe. 10% were unsure.
Hope for a cure for cancer spans the generations. 52% of Gen Xers, 51% of Millennials, and 31% of those in the Silent-Greatest generation report they, as teens, thought a cure for the disease would be found by the time they turned 65.
Among adults as a whole, 43% of Americans believed, as teens, a cure for cancer would be discovered by the time they reached retirement age.
Visions of Innovations: Driving Sky-High
As for the innovation that Boomers thought would most likely be invented by the time they reached 65, three in ten — 30% — believed, as teenagers, there would be flying cars. 35% of Gen Xers agree. Millennials divide with 28% predicting, as teenagers, that flying cars would enter the transportation landscape by the time they reach retirement age and 25% anticipating human robots. There is little consensus among those in the Silent-Greatest generation. Among this group, 17% envisioned flying cars, 16% thought people from earth would be living on other planets, and 14% believed there would be a technological way to make us smarter. 12% thought human robots would be commonplace. Four percent believed there would be no need for sleep, and nearly four in ten — 38% — were unsure.
Among adults nationally, as teens, 28% reported flying cars and 21% believed human robots would be invented by the time they reach 65.
Boomers: Burden or Benefit?
Most Americans — 80% — acknowledge the contributions Baby Boomers, as a generation, have made to society. This includes 87% of Boomers, 79% of those in Gen X, 77% of Millennials, and 75% of those in the Silent-Greatest generation who believe Boomers have been more of a benefit than a burden to American life. However, a greater proportion of Millennials -than any other generation — 19% — consider Boomers to be more of a burden than a benefit.