|By FRAN HAWTHORNE|
Almost every morning,
“She pokes her head in and wants to know what I did yesterday,” joked
Now that they are both retired, father and daughter even find time to go out to art museums and restaurants. This kind of relationship, with parents and offspring in the same family both retired, would have been almost unheard of in an earlier day. But dual-generation retirements have become more numerous, at least for the moment, thanks to a rare confluence of trends. Among them are increased life spans, the relatively young marriage age of the Greatest Generation and what may be the last wave of retirees with traditional pensions, which allow for more secure, even early, retirements.
“This is historically unprecedented, where you have older people and their still-older parents,” said
While the mutual leisure time can allow for nice talks and travel, too much unaccustomed togetherness can rankle, while caretaking responsibilities mount.
The main reason for dual retirements is that people are living longer. More than 11.2 million Americans were over age 80 in the 2010
In a survey of about 1,000 of the oldest boomers by the
But to continue the trend, the 55-and-older group must retire young enough, while their parents are still alive. That situation may not continue. The 2008 recession led to many involuntary early retirements, but surveys show several indicators of later retirement — like the work force participation rate of those over age 55. The ages at which people say they expect to retire and their actual retirement ages have also been rising slowly and for the most part steadily for more than a decade.
People are also putting off having children, which will make it harder for such parents to survive until their daughters and sons retire. The average woman born in 1960 had her first child at 22.7, compared with 20.8 for her mother born in 1935, according to the
Experts say the dual-retirement phenomenon favors certain demographic groups. Employees are more likely to retire if they can count on secure pensions, but those were available to just 13 percent of the private sector work force in 2012, down from 39 percent in 1980, according to the
Among the few careers still offering pensions are unionized, labor-intensive jobs. Those are the same categories of workers who often “won’t physically be able to defer retirement,” said
Another group of generally unionized workers, public sector employees, including teachers like
There are also persuasive reasons to expect that “among that two-generation retirement population, you’re going to have a disproportionate share who are better-educated professionals,” said
Ethnic-based predictions are somewhat tricky.
The luckiest families, like the McBride-Fink clan, enjoy more quality time in their shared retirement.
If she had not already retired from her teaching job,
Often, however, the newfound time is spent on caretaking. In the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s newest annual
Both generations may chafe at the extra togetherness. “She doesn’t want to be dependent,”
The younger retirees may find caretaker responsibilities eating into what was supposed to be their leisure time. “Is that less time for your own kids and grandkids, if you’re spending resources on your parents?”
The pressures are less intense while the younger generation is still employed, because “work can offer an escape from the stress of caregiving and the stress of that family relationship,” said
Despite the hassles, the offspring say they are grateful that retirement has given them extra time with their parents.
If this phenomenon persists into future generations, it may happen at later ages, as baby boomers and their offspring delay retirement, many experts suggest. “By the time their children retire, we may have even more medical advances to help us live even longer,”
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