Washington (March 11, 2004) -- Life for baby boomers and their parents has generally improved over the past 10 years, although there are some "striking vulnerabilities," according to a report by AARP.

In its report, "The State of 50+ America," the AARP points out that Americans aged 50 to 64 improved on every economic measure over the decade, while individuals aged 65 and older improved on most measures, except that their share of income from sources other than Social Security declined, and their employment rate and self-reported health status decreased.

John Rother, AARP's director of policy and strategy, says that with the stock market boom of the '90s, retirees could have been expected to get more of their income from sources other than Social Security. However, the percentage of those 62 and older who receive a majority of their income from non-Social Security sources actually declined slightly over the last decade by nearly 1 percent to just half (49.9 percent).

While median family income rose 12 percent to $35,800 over the last 10 years, the proportion of Americans over 50 achieving a "minimally adequate" standard of living improved only 4 percent to 71.7 percent during that period. More than one-third of those over the age of 65 don't even reach that level. For those between 50 and 64, one in five don't reach the minimal standard.

Median family assets for the overall 50+ population grew by more than 50 percent over the last decade in inflation-adjusted dollars. The population aged 50+ held $29.1 trillion, or 69 percent, of all $42.2 trillion in net worth in the U.S. in 2001, up from 56 percent in 1983, and they held about 73 percent of all financial assets, according to the report.

While two-thirds of the population over age 50 expressed confidence in their retirement future, more Americans over age 65 (73 percent) were confident about their economic future, compared to 63 percent of those ages 50 to 64. The report also noted that the proportion of workers covered by a pension plan increased by 10 percent, but still falls far short of covering a majority of working Americans.

The full report is available online at http://research.aarp.org/general/fifty_plus_2004.html.

-- WebCPA staff

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