Debunking Some Myths About Boomers

There are many myths about baby boomers, not least those propagated by boomers themselves, and a study by AARP Services and Focalyst sets out to debunk some of them.

For one, it rebuts the notion that boomers are downsizing their homes, now that they’ve entered their empty-nester phase and are nearing retirement. “In fact, only 6 percent of boomers are planning to be living in a smaller residence five years from now,” says the report.

Moreover, the purported reasons for any such residential downsizing are themselves mythical. Only about one-fourth of boomers are empty nesters, partly due to the rise of “adultolescents” who’ve boomeranged back to the parental home. “Over 5 million boomers have had an adult child move back into the home in the past year.” Anyhow, 37 percent of boomers have kids under 18 in the household, and 4 million have their own parents living with them. As for retirement, just 11 percent intend to stop working altogether when they reach “retirement age.” The report notes that “13 million boomers are already working in what they consider a second career.”

The fact that they aren’t downsizing their homes obviously has implications for spending intentions. Among these: 92 percent plan to buy a major household item in the next 12 months (at an average cost of $2,200); 74 percent plan to make home improvements in that period, to the tune of $6,000.

The report also examined boomers’ attitudes toward advertising. And if you think boomers (having introduced their own crudeness to modern life) are inured to coarseness, that’s another myth to get past. Sixty-six percent believe “ads have gotten more crude in the past few years”; 53 percent think “a lot of ads today are weird.” It’s no laughing matter if boomers find ads rude: 67 percent said they’re “less likely to purchase a product if the advertising is offensive to me.”

It’s not that they’ve turned their backs on pop culture, though. Among the activities in which they regularly engage are listening to music (68 percent), going to movies (46 percent) and going to live musical events (27 percent).