Career Path Logjam
Robert Wendover, director of the Center for Generational Studies, offers some thoughts related to my concerns that some number of Baby Boomers won’t accept it as their social duty to pass the torch along to the next generation:
… Regardless of their financial position, most Boomers are reluctant to leave the workforce. While income plays a role, there is also that many in this generation have tied what they do for a living to their identity as a person. Introduce yourself to a Boomer and chances are he or she will include a job title in the first few seconds of conversation. Assemble a few of them at a gathering and they’ll find a way to talk shop. Outplacement counselors know that one of the biggest hurdles for Boomers in transition is to let go of the identity they are clinging to based on a former role. An impending retirement presents them with some of this same trepidation.
Additionally, Boomers have tended to use their work environment as a source for building and maintaining a social life. There’s the annual holiday party, the summer barbecue, the company sporting events and the monthly trade association meetings where 50-somethings take turns being volunteer leaders. Retirement can be the perfect storm: loss of income, loss of identity, loss of social circle. Why not remain in a role that is comfortable, reassuring and pays for the first and second mortgages?