A Study from Merrill Lynch and Age Wave
By Lorna Sabbia, head of Retirement and Personal Wealth Solutions for Bank of America Merrill Lynch

How can today’s communities join together to maximize our collective impact? And where do the greatest opportunities exist to make a real difference?

The answer: turn to our retirees.

According to a Merrill Lynch study “Giving in Retirement: America’s Longevity Bonus,” conducted in partnership with Age Wave to examine the priorities, rewards and challenges of giving in retirement, about two-thirds of retirees say retirement is the best time in life to give back. More people age 65-plus donate money or goods than any other age group, and they give the greatest amount – more than double that of younger adults.* And with more time, savings and skills to contribute to charities and causes they care about, retirees are poised to transform the U.S. giving economy in unprecedented ways.

With the combined impact of a surging aging population, increasing life expectancy and high rates of retiree giving, the boomer population will create a “longevity bonus” estimated at a cumulative $8 trillion in the U.S. over the next two decades.** 

So what’s motivating retirees’ generosity?

For many, giving isn’t only a societal imperative but a key ingredient to a meaningful retirement.

Retirees who give say they have a stronger sense of purpose, higher self-esteem, and are both happier and healthier. Eighty-four percent also say that an important reason they are able to give more is that they have greater skills and talents compared to their younger years.*

The study also explores the question: is there a more generous gender?

Findings point to yes. Retired women are even more likely than retired men to say retirement is the best time to give back, and more retired women donate and volunteer to charitable causes. Retired women are also more motivated to give by gratitude, faith and passion.*

As we continue to identify ways to make a difference, it’s clear that retirees are emerging as a strong new force in the giving space. The aging population is uniquely positioned to harness their lifetime of knowledge, skills and experience to make a significant impact. As retirees continue to contribute their time and money in new and meaningful ways, they can become a key part of the solution to some of our country’s biggest challenges.

*Merrill Lynch “Giving in Retirement: America’s Longevity Bonus,” October 2015

**Calculations based on data from the Center for Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College, the U.S. Census, the U.S. Corporation for National Community Service, and Giving in Retirement: America’s Longevity Bonus survey.

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