My Two Cents

Older workers and Retirement

Chris Farrell Dec 14, 2007

This is an important number, courtesy of the Urban Institute. People in the bottom 20% of lifetime earners can hike their retirement income by 98% if they work five more years instead of retiring.

And people are working longer. Specifically, between 1988 and 2007 the labor participation rates of women rose by about 20 percentage points for those age 55-64 and doubled for women age 65-69. When it comes to men, between 1992 and 2007 participation rates for those age 62–64 increased from 41 to 51 percent, a hike of 24 percent over the 15-year period. Over the same time frame, male participation rates at age 65–69 increased from 22 to 34 percent, an increase of about 55 percent.

The Urban Institute also notes that traditional retirements–meaning a direct transition from full-time work to no work–is not the norm. For instance, about 60% of older people work after retiring from career jobs; about one-third of workers change occupations after age 51; and about one-quarter of older adults “unretire,” returning to work after leaving the labor force.

Problem is, employers aren’t very interested in hiring older workers. We all know that. I think this will change with time, but it’s the reality faced by many aging workers who still have a major contribution to make at the workplace.

To delve farther into the issue, check out these two papers from the Urban Institute: Download file and Download file

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