First Person: Un-Baby Boom Now Means Less Social Security Later

Yahoo Contributor Network

Since retirees depend on the generation of workers to fund their retirements, generations X and Y may be dramatically impacted by the ongoing "un-baby boom." My husband and I are Gen-Xers who have younger cousins and siblings. While most of our peers delayed having children, some never had children. According to a recent article by CNBC, the weak economy is to blame for fewer babies. Generation X is being hit with a double whammy since the baby boomers are bleeding the Social Security system dry, claiming it's their money they put in. They want maximum benefits now, even though they simply paid into an insurance policy like the rest of us. It's a policy intended to cover people who live longer than they were supposed to live as opposed to a slush fund to pay for golfing and dining out with friends for 20 years.

Living longer, but not better

According to a BlackRock report, baby boomers can expect to spend 20 to 25 years in retirement compared to 13.6 for retirees in 1980. Boomers aren't necessarily living longer as much as they are retiring earlier. People in my generation don't "expect" to spend decades in retirement. They expect to work until they die or, at least, close to it. It shouldn't come as a surprise to someone who retires at age 62 that they might live another 20 years. Someone who works to age 70 only has to plan for 10 years of retirement.

Having a smaller family

I didn't know a lot of other people having babies when I had my children in the mid-1990s. At that time, there was another un-baby boom going on because of the recession. I stopped at two children. According to experts with Pew Research, it's common for people to have fewer children during down economies. It costs about $234,000 to raise a child to age 18. Ironically, we noticed it's even more expensive to raise college-age children.

Avoiding parenthood to help parents

I've noticed a lot of my Gen-X friends who could have that last child in their 30s or 40s are too burdened with their senior citizen parents' debts and bills. Although experts put a price tag on what it costs to raise a child, few people study what it costs to care for aging baby boomers that didn't save enough for retirement. One of my friends in her early 30s let her in-laws move in after they lost their home to foreclosure. They are letting the in-laws live in what was supposed to be the baby's nursery. They are dipping into junior's college fund to pay for the grandparents' credit card debt. I can relate since we had to stop paying the grandparents' debts so that we didn't get into debt ourselves.

People in my generation lived through several recessions. I still had my two children even though I couldn't find a full-time job with benefits. I had to work extra hours as an independent contractor to pay for doctor bills with cash. However, the down economy did stop me from having more than two children or adopting children. And, the fizzled-out population will undoubtedly deflate my Social Security benefits 20 to 30 years from now. I know my generation will survive because that's what we do.

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