Baby Boomers Got Screwed By the Recession, But Millennials Face Much Worse

When it comes to the economic crisis, it seems that millennials and Baby Boomers are facing similarly dire straits. However, it seems that in 50 years, millennials will face all of the challenges that the Baby Boomers are dealing with today, but with less financial security, infrastructure, and resources, which will have been depleted by the Baby Boomers.

NPR is running a story on the many people working years past retirement age. While Ina Jaffe paints a rosy picture of this trend (profiling the “most optimistic person,” a state senator, and a fitness instructor, all working long into their seventies and eighties), the economic rationale behind this is bleak. According to NPR, a quarter of adults over 50 say they ran through all of their retirement savings during the recession.  

At the other end of the age spectrum are the millennials, who are equally stressed, but unemployed. As Daily Kos puts it: “Boomers are so screwed that they may never be able to stop working, the millennials are so screwed that they may never be able to start working.” 

Many media sources have framed the economic plight of Baby Boomers and millennials in opposition: who is more screwed? Milennials have been highlighted for being entitled in their approach to the workforce, while Baby Boomers are blamed for getting us all into this mess in the first place. However, it’s important to consider the relative care that millennials and Baby Boomers tend to provide each other: as Michael Winerip notes, “the boomers are taking care of their elderly parents, and their millennial children say some day they will take care of their boomer parents.” Of course this care has consequences: Millennials are willing to provide care for the Baby Boomers in their old age, which will be an additional financial cost for a generation already without much earning power

While millennials and Baby Boomers might face the similar economic problems, at the end of the day, millennials are facing these financial challenges at the beginning of their careers, which has grave consequences for their futures. 

With anticipated blows to infrastructure, programs that protect older adults like social security and Medicaid, and the decimation of retirement plans in the new economy, Milennials’ financial prospects aren’t looking good.

Though Baby Boomers and millennials might care for each other, it seems that any financial challenges facing Boomers in the current crisis will only be magnified for the millennials in 50 years.