To 2028: The Boomer Odyssey

November 21, 2008 ( - Baby Boomers may redefine themselves and their surroundings by the year 2028 as a result of an evolving global environment and marketplace, according to a new project by the Institute for the Future in conjunction with the MetLife Mature Market Institute.

The project’s final report, “Boomers: The Next 20 Years, Ecologies of Risk,” paints a new picture of the Boomer demographic as it confronts a longer lifespan, the widest rich-poor gap in recent generations, a global energy shortage, new economic realities, and a Web-based infrastructure, according to a press release. The report concludes that Boomers will be resourceful and self-reliant, forming economic, health, and social collectives – and families of choice – to adapt to the future.

According to the report, Boomers will distribute the stress and burden of managing risk across networks of people, some based on kinship and others on affinity or interest. They will plan more, work longer, and become more entrepreneurial, as well as take part in peer-to-peer networks of people that will perform some of the financial services that banks and other financial institutions perform today.

Money Matters

The groups note that Boomers will be the first generation to age in a truly global economy, giving them access to more learning resources, new ways to collaborate, financial products from around the world, and health care abroad (“medical tourism”).

In addition, the report suggests that an erosion of the trust people have had in institutions will bring new banking/investment vehicles, peer-to-peer loans, and new structures to manage new capitals. Financial security will be threatened by diminished government and employer safety nets and low personal savings.

"Boomers: The Next 20 Years, Ecologies of Risk" projects emerging patterns of marriage, remarriage and childbearing, including alternative chosen family arrangements, will change the definition of family. There will be peer caretaking and social care matching services, the report says.

In addition, the report suggests greater distance between family members and greater responsibility for the financial well-being of children and grandchildren will contribute to slowed personal wealth accumulation.

Boomers will use new ways to build communities to close the gap created by decreased mobility, polarization, social fragmentation, and health challenges such as online social networks, virtual retirement communities, and community blogging. Challenges they will face include elder abuse, anti-boomer backlash, and ageist zoning laws.

Degradation of the environment will bring risks from new diseases and fewer sustainable food and energy sources resulting in food and energy collectives, do-it-yourself (DIY) products, and green technology.

Boomers will live longer, but will suffer from new chronic diseases and widespread depression from aging, illness, and other concerns. They will manage their health differently with biometrics and online tools that will challenge privacy, but will allow them to share and benefit from new information found on all parts of the globe.

Developed through ethnographic profiling of a diverse group of those born between 1946 and 1964, "Boomers: The Next 20 Years, Ecologies of Risk" is the result of a three-phased project of how Baby Boomers will age over the coming decades. The first phase mapped boomers' 20-year horizon, identifying seven big stories that will shape their future (the Boomer map). The second phase consisted of interviews with boomers to define the 10 "Action Types" showing how different Boomers will make different choices as they confront the challenges of the future. The final phase, "Ecologies of Risk," uses these insights to create focused forecasts of the boomers' world.

Six organizations, including major corporations and the AARP, were involved in the project.

To download a copy of "Boomers: The Next 20 Years, Ecologies of Risk" and the Boomer map, visit and go to "What's New."