NU Online News Service, Feb. 20, 2004, 5:24 p.m. EST – The income gap between rich retirees and poor retirees may widen in coming decades.[@@]

The United States is home to 76 million people who were born between 1946 and 1964. The first members of that generation will begin reaching age 67 in 2013 and the last will reach age 67 in 2031.

Researchers at the Boston College Center for Retirement Research say Social Security Administration income projections suggest that, even after adjusting for inflation, retirees born toward the end of the baby boom will have the equivalent of an average annual per capita family income of $48,000 at age 67, up from an average of $28,000 for current 67-year-old retirees.

The researchers then compare projections for retirees who rank in the top fifth and the bottom fifth in terms of total career earnings.

Today, half of retirees in the top fifth have a per capita family income that is 162% of the median income for all retirees. The median per capita family income for retirees in the bottom fifth is 56%.

By the time the late boomers retire, the retirees in the top fifth could end up with a median income that amounts to 228% of the median income for all retirees their age, while the median for retirees in the bottom fifth could sink to 45%, the researchers report.

The researchers are Barbara Butrica, Howard Iams and Karen Smith.

The retirement research center has posted links to the Butrica paper and other center papers at http://www.bc.edu/centers/crr/public_wor.shtml