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Retirement in the 21st Century

The confluence of two forces is just beginning to the reshape how Americans view their retirement years. First, people are living longer, healthier lives. “This means many people have at least 15-20 years after they retire,” Nancy Collamer, the founder of and author of the book Second-Act Careers, tells Christpoher Carosa in a FiduciaryNews article. “What are they going to do to fill that time and how will they make their money last?” she asks.

Second, as Carosa notes, it’s important to understand exactly who today’s recent retirees are: the leading edge of the “Me Generation.” This is a group whose hallmarks are questioning the way things were done by parents and grandparents, doing its own thing, and creating an amazing array of new products and services. Why would anyone expect them to change that behavior just because they’re retired? Rather, we should expect them to remain engaged in their careers, try new ones, innovate and create products and services — likely designed for their cohorts — no one can foresee.

The result: an unpredictable new paradigm for retirees and the industry that serves them. For a deeper dive, Carosa has posted a multi-part series on the ramifications of that paradigm. Also recommended if you have an interest in thoughtful analysis of generational issues in a broader context: the work of Neil Howe and his team at LifeCourse Associates.