Melva Boettner and Nancy Grout share more in common than a zest
for adventure and a branch on the family tree. The mother and
daughter also share the same Arizona retirement community.
And why not? They say the gated neighborhood gives them a sense
of security, the swimming pools and tennis courts keep them active,
and nurses are on-call 24 hours a day. "Everything we need, we
have," Mrs. Grout says of Leisure World.
It's a situation that may become increasingly familiar to
Americans during the coming decade. While most baby boomers have led
radically different lives from their parents, some social scientists
say they're likely to follow their parents' footsteps when they
The question of where the baby-boom generation will retire has
enormous implications for the nation's Sun Belt. States from Arizona
to Florida rely on a steady influx of retirees fleeing cold climates
as an essential component of their expanding economies. To them,
baby boomers - those tens of millions of Americans born between
War II and 1964 - are a potential jackpot.
In the meantime, demographers and gerontologists will be watching
Grout and other new retirees for indications of what the future of
retirement might look like.
"I see no evidence indicating that baby boomers will approach
retirement any differently than their predecessors," says David
Taylor, a planner in Tucson, which is one of the Arizona cities
experiencing a flood of seasonal retirees, known as snowbirds, and
permanent elderly migrants from northern states.
But he adds: "The baby boomers very clearly have approached life
differently than those who have entered retirement the last few
decades - people who grew up during the Great Depression."
RETIREES represent 15.5 percent of Arizona's overall population,
which is the fastest growing in the US. The state's median age is
35.5 and going up, but Mr. Taylor attributes it more to the aging of
boomers than a surge of retirees.
Demographic studies show that Arizona captures 80 percent of
retirees from the Midwestern and Plains states, while Florida claims
the lion's share of retirees living east of the Mississippi River
from the populous Northeast, notes Tim Hogan, director of the
Institute at Arizona State University in Tempe.
The inflow of retirees follows a predictable pattern: Many flock
to the Sun Belt seasonally during the winter and then, after a few
years, move south permanently.
Obviously, there are fundamental differences between each
generation's approaches to its golden years. Attitudes of current
retirees were shaped by the Depression and they tend to carry an
ever-present concern about their financial standing.
As a hedge, these seniors are thrifty, feel uncomfortable accruing
huge debt with credit cards, are largely single wage-earner
see themselves as "joiners" in community activities like the Lions'
Club or Elks' Lodge, choose neighborhoods for their social value
rather than exclusivity, and worked for only a couple of employers
their entire career. …