Gloom and Doom Rule the Baby Boom

Boomers are tired, overworked, strapped, bummed out and don't expect to get a break.

More than young people or seniors, Baby Boomers (aged 44 to 62 now) are gloomy about their lives and the prospects for improvement, a new survey finds.

The Pew Research Center Social and Demographic Trends survey, released today, finds 55 percent of Boomers think their income won't keep up with the cost of living, compared to 44 percent and 43 percent respectively for younger and older adults.

Boomers also say it's harder to get ahead now than it was 10 years ago. The reality may be a bit different than impressions, however. The Boomers were found to be less strained financially then younger adults and less likely to have been laid off in the past year. But they were also less likely than younger adults to have gotten a raise.

Asked to rate their present life on a scale of zero to 10, Boomers came in with an average rating of 6.2. Those over 62 averaged out at 6.7, and adults aged 18 to 41 came in at 6.5.

Just 26 percent of the Boomers expect to live very comfortably in retirement, compared to 37 percent for younger adults and 33 percent for older adults.

And they're not just more pessimistic than other groups about their own lives. They rate the financial prospects for others more gloomily, too. And about 70 percent of Boomers are dissatisfied with the direction of the country, compared to 54 percent for the younger crowed.

"Demographically speaking, this is a generation at the peak of its earning power, but with a lot on its plate," the Pew researchers note.

The study leaders say the bleak outlook is not just about reaching middle age. "Boomers generally have been downbeat, compared with other age groups, for the past two decades," they report. "So their current sour ratings may be related to getting older, but they also may be related to the attitudes and expectations about life they formed when they were young."

The telephone survey of 2,413 adults was conducted Jan. 24 through Feb. 19.

The results mirror a similar survey released in April that also found Boomers to be the most miserable group and less happy than their age group in decades past. But all hope is not lost. That survey also revealed that seniors are having a ball, and that Americans tend to grow happier with age.

Of course, times are changing. A pair of studies last year found that Boomers won't be able to retire as early in life as their parents did.

Live Science Staff
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