Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Baby boomers breaking the mold in retirement

A woman from the Baby Boomer generation is smiling as she sits to answer interview questions.
Screen Capture
VPM News Focal Point
The Baby Boomer generation faces retirement, but not all are ready to leave the workforce.

By 2030 1 in 5 Americans will be 65 or older, but many who have already passed that age are deciding not to leave the workforce. Baby Boomer experts say this shift will mean major changes for the economy and planning for the future.


ADRIENNE MCGIBBON: Bonnie Bartley and Laura Davis are two of Virginia's baby boomers who have entered retirement.

BONNIE BARTLEY: I really wasn't ready to retire. I just said, you know, I love what I do, I want to keep doing it. And fortunately for me, the people that I worked for was in agreement, so I worked until I was 76, and it was great.

ADRIENNE MCGIBBON: About 16% of Virginians have reached retirement age, but like Bonnie, not all of them are leaving the workforce at 65.

MATT THORNHILL: As they've gone through life, they've transformed kind of culture and life and society here in America. At every stage of life, they've done it. And now they're at that retirement age and looking forward to the next 10, 20, 30 years, they're already transforming what it means to grow older in Virginia and across the country.

ADRIENNE MCGIBBON: Matt Thornhill, who wrote The Boomer Consumer, says many people in this generation are living longer and that's causing a population shift.

MATT THORNHILL: Social scientists would talk about that as the population age pyramid. You know, a triangle, with more on the bottom and less on the top. Well, since about the 1960s, we've not been making enough young people, so to speak, and the thing has changed. It's not a pyramid anymore. We have actually turned into a pillar.

ADRIENNE MCGIBBON: By 2030, one-fifth of the population will be 65 or older. Thornhill says Virginia should consider that an opportunity.

MATT THORNHILL: How do we tap into this army of older adults who are out there, again, with wisdom and experience and knowledge and maybe even money, to help nonprofits, to help communities, to help organizations, kind of make a difference in their community?


Related Articles
  1. Relying on science to open minds and create beauty
  2. 'I’m in it to win it': Training for the Senior Olympics
  3. Lessons from the pandemic in Virginia nursing homes