December 8, 2005

Baby Boomers: From the Age of Aquarius to the Age of Responsibility

As the oldest of the nation’s 75 million baby boomers approach the age of 60, a Pew Research Center survey finds many are looking ahead to their own retirement while balancing a full plate of family responsibilities – either raising minor children or providing financial and other forms of support to adult children or to aging parents.

In the past year, 50% of all boomers were raising one or more young children and/or providing primary financial support to one or more adult children, while another 17% whose only children are ages 18 and older were providing some financial assistance to at least one such child, according to the survey. In addition, the survey finds that two-in-ten boomers were providing some financial assistance to a parent. Few boomers bear all these responsibilities simultaneously; the survey finds that about 13% are providing some financial support to a parent at the same time as they are also either raising a minor child or supporting an adult child.

The baby boomers currently range in age from 41 through 59 (the oldest turned 60 in January) and, like middle-aged generations before them, they are in a stage of life when it is natural to give more than to take when it comes to family relationships. However, changing demographics within families have prolonged for boomers this period of being “sandwiched” between the needs of their parents and their children.

The national survey conducted from Oct. 5 to Nov. 6 among 3,014 adults, including 1,117 boomers, looks at intergenerational relationships within families. This is the first in a new series of surveys by the Pew Research Center that examine social trends and explore the everyday lives of Americans at work, at play, in their communities and in their families.

Major findings from the report include:

Read the full report for more details.