Cross a stock market Armageddon off your list of fears. No question, the retirement of tens of millions of boomers in the coming decades will have a major impact on everything from health care (count on surging demand) to real estate (good-bye, suburbs, hello, beach house). And, the thinking goes, the generation that loaded up on stocks as they saved for retirement will crash the market once they sell those shares to pay for retirement.
Here's why that's not true.
Stock ownership is extremely concentrated among the very highest income brackets - those in the top 10% hold 68% of financial assets, according to a 2006 study by the Government Accountability Office. These wealthy investors are unlikely to be so strapped for cash that they have to sell their shares in a hurry. Instead, says George Walper, co-author of "Get Rich, Stay Rich, Pass It On," most affluent families intend to preserve assets for their heirs. Moreover, many baby boomers plan to stay in the work force longer than an earlier generation did, even into retirement, which would further reduce the need to sell shares abruptly.