A Generation in Transition: A Survey of Bay State Baby Boomers is a groundbreaking report produced in partnership with Princeton Survey Research Associates Intl. and made possible by the generous support of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

This survey represents the first of its kind for our state.

Historically, baby boomers have rewritten the rules of society at every stage of the life cycle, and they are poised to do so again. In 2006, the oldest boomers will turn 60, approaching their retirement years. Boomers appear ready to redefine retirement by delaying their retirement past the current norm and planning to work at least part-time even after they retire. They will reverse a trend of many decades toward earlier and earlier retirement.

The change in their views on retirement seems to be rippling through the generation, with younger boomers expecting to retire later and to work after retiring in greater numbers. For at least 39 percent, the expectation that they will work is not a choice but a financial necessity. This challenges the stereotype of endless boomer optimism.

As boomers age, they also face a number of decisions about where to live. If their future unfolds as they expect, Massachusetts stands to lose a lot of boomers to other states. More than one-third of boomers (35%) say they want to leave the state for their retirement years. This translates roughly to 650,000 people, or 10 percent of the state’s population. While some degree of retirement migration is to be expected, the sheer size of this generation makes their exodus worrisome.

In thinking about what can be done, some factors – notably, the weather – are beyond any policymaker’s control. But the state’s civic, political, and business leaders should think about ways to make the Bay State more retiree-friendly, so that Massachusetts boomers do not feel compelled to leave. Making Massachusetts more affordable must be part of the strategy to keep boomers.

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