Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender baby boomers say their approach to retirement and aging has been shaped by years of discrimination, a new study by the MetLife Mature Market Institute finds.
“Still Out, Still Aging: The MetLife Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Baby Boomers” was conducted by MMMI with the American Society on Aging and its constituent group, the LGBT Aging Issues Network.
The study shows LGBT boomers will approach retirement differently than the general population, and most will delay retirement until age 70. Largely single and living alone, they will rely more on close friends than family for support as they age.
“Boomers in the LGBT population, born between 1946 and 1964, advanced the gay rights movement,” said Sandra Timmermann, director of MMMI, Westport, Conn. Among lesbians, 76% said they were completely or mostly “out,” while 74% of gay men said the same. Among bisexuals, 16% said they were out, while 39% of transgender individuals said the same.
Asked if their families were completely or very accepting of their sexuality, 61% of lesbians said yes, compared to 57% of gay men, 24% of bisexuals and 42% of transgenders who said the same.
“We suggest that policy makers look at a number of items, including workplace and benefit changes, to address the delayed age of retirement for many and a broader definition of caregivers than those now accepted by the aging industry,” said Robert Stein, president and CEO of ASA. “We also need to take a look at a greater public role in caregiving for those who say they have no one to rely on in an emergency. Finally, there are lessons to be learned by the resilience and self-advocacy skills of the LGBT group that should be shared.”
The study polled 1,200 LGBT individuals and 1,200 people from the general population. Among its findings:
–60% of LGBT Boomers fear being unable to care for themselves as they age; 35% fear becoming dependent on others; and 10% fear discrimination as they age.
–48% of the LGBT group said they would be at least 70 before they can retire, compared with 40% in the general population who said so, mostly for economic reasons. Only a quarter or fewer in the LGBT group say they have saved what they need to live in retirement.
Members of the general population are more likely to be in a relationship than those in the LGBT sample, 77% to 61%. MMMI also found 26% of LGBT partners have married, even though only 5 states grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In addition, 63% said they would marry if there was a federal law allowing gay marriage.
Nearly 66% of LGBT boomers say they have a “chosen family,” a group of people whom they consider family, even though they are not legally or biologically related.