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Boomers, Selfish? Think Again


As I reported in my “10 things boomers won’t tell you” story, the boomers often get a bad rap as being selfish. Some of the complaints: They spend too much money (and so they can’t retire), they’re costing this country too much money, and they’re obsessed with their own aging.  But studies show the “Me Generation” may not be as as self-centered as some critics say.

For one, boomers volunteer at a higher rate than any other generation, according to data released earlier this year from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Roughly one in three baby boomers volunteer on a regular basis, the study found — about four percentage points higher than the national average.  And now, a new study shows that not only do they volunteer in huge numbers, they also hope to create non-profits to help the community.

Here are some of the interesting findings from the nonprofit Civic Ventures survey released this week:

  • One in four Americans ages 44 – 70 (about 25 million people) are interested in starting businesses or nonprofit ventures in the next five to 10 years; roughly half of them want to be  so-called “encore entrepreneurs,” making a positive social impact as well as a living.
  • Most potential encore entrepreneurs (72%) expect to create local, small organizations employing up to 10 people.
  • Fully 54% of encore entrepreneurs say they are “very likely” to start their ventures within the next 5 to 10 years.

Still, these boomers are well aware of the difficulty in starting a business like this (some of which we have outlined in this SmartMoney story.) Forty-seven percent of encore entrepreneurs believe they might not be able to obtain adequate financing to start their venture. And 52% say they have delayed launching their ventures because they do not feel secure enough financially right now. Read full study results here.


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    • What remarkable question

    • WOW…I have to agree with Try Again, “Study is just putting lipstick on the boomer pigs.”

      If you’re older, you’re too old to volunteer (in a nursing home) and if you’re younger, you’re stuck working 50-60hrs/week while trying to raise a family…to finance the boomers’ retirement. They volunteer and start non-profits more than any other generation? That’s like a study proving that eating a bag of potato chips/day makes you fat…it goes without saying.

      A round of golf in the morning and off to the charity in the afternoon…and oh what a wonderful person I am. Nice gig if you can get it.


    • Hear hear, except that “impact” is a bad verb when you mean “affect”. We also agree that Generation conflict is as destructive our civic life as the so-called “wealth gap, disparity, whatever the Chattering Class word of the day to express Green With Envy of Some Hard-Working Family’s industry and savings and investment prowess and success with educating their kids to take nothing for granted. Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves should be enough to light a fire under lazy butts, BUT, we know that’s not the case in today’s America that has too much money in all the wrong places.

    • As a proud member of the baby boomer generation I feel I earned the right to give back. My generation, (The “Me Generation”), paved the way for many social, economic and physical changes. As with all changes come the good things, the not so good things and the really not so good things. If you think I am growing old gracefully, think again. Cosmetic industry will develop anti-aging products for me. Fitness industry will develop exercise and nutrition programs for me. As outrageous as Health Care may be, the field of Geriatric care will continue to flourish for me.

    • Another 9 day vacation for the vacationer in chief; Taxpayers get to pay.
      Imperial WH at play. (as usual).

About Encore

  • Encore examines the changing nature of retirement, from new rules and guidelines for financial security to the shifting identities and priorities of today’s retirees. The blog also explores news that affects retirement, from the Wall Street Journal Digital Network and around the web. Lead bloggers are reporter Catey Hill and senior editor Jeremy Olshan. Other contributors include The Wall Street Journal’s retirement columnists Glenn Ruffenach and Anne Tergesen; the Director for the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Alicia Munnell; and the Director of Research for Pinnacle Advisory Group, Michael Kitces, CFP.