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Older Americans Expect to Work Longer; Many Expect Never to Retire

By SHRM Online staff  12/12/2011
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Not only are older American workers (age 50 and over) expecting to work longer, but many now say they expect never to retire, according to the not-for-profit Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).

“The general trend shows that older Americans are expecting to retire later,” said Sudipto Banerjee, EBRI research associate and author of the study. “But the most striking finding is that nearly 20 percent of the sample expects never to stop working and more than 15 percent of the sample don’t know when they are going to retire.”

In additoin, the study found that:

• In 2006, 11.2 percent of workers age 50 or over expected to retire at age 70; in 2010 that number had increased to 14.8 percent.

• In 2006, just 1.7 percent of workers age 50 or over expected to retire at age 80; in 2010 that had more than tripled to 5.2 percent.

Expected retirement at earlier ages (62 and 65) steadily declined over the 2006-2010 period, the EBRI study found.

Full results are published in the December 2011 EBRI Notes, Retirement Age Expectations of Older Americans Between 2006 and 2010.” The EBRI study examined data from the University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Survey on how the expected retirement ages of older Americans changed during the period of 2006–2010, covering the periods just before, during, and after the economic recession.

While the rising age of expected retirement may reflect a growing awareness of economic and fiscal reality among Americans workers—especially at a time of rising longevity—other research by EBRI indicates many of them will be unable to actually work longer: EBRI's 2011 Retirement Confidence Survey found that a large percentage of American retirees (45 percent in 2011) leave the work force earlier than planned.

Related Articles:

Viewpoint: Six Steps to Put Employees on the Retirement Readiness Path, SHRM Online Benefits Discipline, November 2011

Employee Retirement Confidence Drops to Record Low, SHRM Online Benefits Discipline, March 2011

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SHRM Online Retirement Plans Resource Page

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