at 13% and 5%, respectively. In the first quarter of 2017, these
figures were north of 19% and 8%, respectively, representing
an increase of 50% in economic engagement among the elderly.
Similarly, further study suggests that increased activity is not exclusive to the financially motivated. Analysis performed by the
Corporation for National and Community Service has shown
that volunteerism among baby boomers materially surpasses
that of their parents at similar ages. The researchers behind the
study go on to suggest that, because of delayed lifestyle trends
(for example, having children later in life), boomers may continue to volunteer at high rates at much older ages than their
parents. Similarly, travel interest among baby boomers is quite
robust. A 2016 study by AARP anticipated that 99% of boomers would take at least one leisure trip in 2017, with the average
boomer expecting at least five vacations throughout the year.
While the majority expected to travel exclusively within the
US, 43% hoped for a mix of international and domestic destinations. While the implications for lifestyle changes may be endless, baby boomers are clearly still ambitious in both labor and
leisure to preserve a lifestyle of robust activity into and through
their golden years.
For many boomers, a fulfilled retirement life with frequent
travel and social engagements will require additional lifestyle
flexibility. We believe that this fact will impact all major economic decisions—especially housing needs—for older adults.
An oft-mentioned migration trend experienced in the US
and many other developed nations is the push among young
adults toward an urban live-work-play lifestyle. As educational
attainment and worker productivity levels rise, the industrialization of yesteryear makes way for the present service-based
economy, more and more young people are discovering that
the best career and lifestyle opportunities are found in cities.
While this presents a great case for urban accommodations
targeting millennials, it also highlights an interesting dilemma
for their boomer parents. Should they move farther away from
cities to the traditional retirement communities of their parents or remain nearby to be present for life’s special moments
with their children and grandchildren? Furthermore, will it
benefit boomers to have their children nearby to assist as old
age inevitably impairs their health and mobility? While the
choice will surely not be so simple for everyone, it will become
increasingly impactful as this generation ages.
Impacts on Homeownership
While correlation does not imply causation, the downward
trend in homeownership rates among seniors indicates that,
at minimum, owning a home is not as attractive as it once
was to the elderly population (Exhibit 4). For some, this trend
may be proof of a growing desire for the lifestyle flexibility
associated with renting, while for others, it may simply indicate a post–Great Recession terminus to America’s infatuation
with homeownership. To better understand these motivations,
RCLCO surveyed more than 1,000 50- to 70-year-old home-owners with incomes above $50,000 who indicated they were
likely to move in the next five years. Of those who anticipated
a move to rental housing, the top reasons were to pass off the
burden of home maintenance, to make economic improvements (for example, reduce housing costs or realize home
equity), and to downsize to a smaller space. While these primary motivations should come as no surprise, the next three
reasons for renting were to enjoy amenities (pools, fitness centers, concierge services, etc.), to have social opportunities with
others in a similar life stage, and to live in walkable neighborhoods near shops and restaurants. Admittedly, the study re-
n 65+ n 75+
1987 1990 1993 1996 1999 2002 2005 2008 2011 2014 2017
Exhibit 3: Labor Force Participation Rate by Age
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Exhibit4: Senior Homeownership Rate ( 65+ Years Old, Rolling TTM* Average)
Source: US Census Bureau
*Trailing 12 Month
1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 013 2014 2017
Average since 1995 is 80%.