Moreover, even as four years of campus life become the rule rather than the exception among the generations following them, Boomers remain slightly more likely than adults on average to have earned an undergraduate or advanced degree. That emphasis on education and the opportunities it presents mean that Boomers are some of the biggest earners in history, but their penchant for the nicer things in life means that most can’t afford to slow down—even those who are inching ever more rapidly toward traditional retirement age.
Largely through their own refusal to accept the once inevitable slide into obsolescence and decrepitude, Boomers have revolutionized perceptions of aging, perhaps most strongly in the way they fund their self-indulgent streak through a dedication to work and career (and, occasionally, credit cards), but also in the way they refuse to go softly into that dark night. Far from dwindling into the shadows of irrelevance, Baby Boomers are the largest demographic segment today. They make up one-third of the U.S. population and spend about $2 trillion annually, according to JWT BOOM-BoomerEyes/C&R Research study data released in January 2008. And their influence shows no sign of waning since the fastest-growing segment of the population over the next five years comprises leading-edge Boomers.