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March 2006, Vol. 129, No. 3
Projected pension income: equality or disparity for the baby-boom cohort?
James H. Moore, Jr.
The argument that individuals born at different times are faced with different social and economic circumstances is particularly apropos of the baby-boom cohort, a generation that comprises approximately 77 million Americans. Campbell Gibson argues that analyzing this group as a whole does not accurately portray the many social and economic trends embedded within the group, because the boomers are composed of several subgenerations with different behavioral patterns.1 He suggests that the best way to understand the differences among the boomers is to look at the characteristics of the different boomers when they are at the same age.
Earlier work by John R. Woods applied a method similar to Gibson’s to assess pension coverage for both younger and older boomers when they are at the same age.2 Woods’s findings suggest that the younger boomers had a lower rate of coverage between the ages of 27 and 36 years than did the older boomers at those same ages. More recently, Jules Lichtenstein and Ke Bin Wu found that, for both pension coverage on any career job and coverage by an individual retirement account (IRA), younger boomers had less coverage than older boomers when older and younger boomers were at the same age.3
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1 Campbell Gibson, "The Four Baby Booms," American Demo-graphics, November 1993, pp. 36–40.
2 John R. Woods, "Pension coverage among the Baby Boomers: initial findings from a 1993 survey," Social Security Bulletin, fall 1994, pp. 12–25.
3 Jules H. Lichtenstein and Ke Bin Wu, "Retirement Plan Coverage and Saving Trends of Baby Boomer Cohorts by Sex: Analysis of the 1989 and 1998 SCF [Survey of Consumer Finances]," AARP Public Policy Institute Data Digest, Publication DD93 (Washington, DC, AARP, November 2003), pp. 1–8.
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