When It Comes to Retirement, a Possible 'Cultural Shift'

Less than half of Americans think they'll work past age 62, per a new survey
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 1, 2024 5:30 AM CDT
More People Than Ever Hope to Retire Early
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Sam Edwards)

Less than a decade ago, the percentage of Americans who anticipated they'd work past age 62 hovered close to 60%. Now, that figure comes in at less than half: According to the SCE Labor Market Survey released in March and cited by Liberty Street Economics, only about 46% of those polled expected to work past 62—a 9.5% drop since the start of the pandemic in 2020. "The decline is broad-based across age, education, and income groups," write researchers from the New York Fed.

  • Actual retirement: That magic "62" tracks with the Employee Benefit Research Institute's latest retirement-confidence survey, which finds the median age of retirement to be 62, Axios reports. Not even a third of retirees work until 65 these days, the same survey found.

  • Reasons: So why the early ditching? It's unclear, but Liberty Street Economics cites the possibility of everything from boosted household wealth and confidence in future earnings, to a more YOLO-style attitude after the pandemic. It could even be due to a "cultural shift characterized by a rethinking of the value of work."
  • High hopes: People tend to be overly optimistic and overestimate how long they can work for, the EBRI's Craig Copeland tells the Wall Street Journal. "The gap between expectations and reality demonstrates the ways people aren't great at imagining the years ahead," the paper notes, citing UCLA psychologist Hal Hershfield.
  • What you need to know: Planning on getting out of the rat race by the time you're 62? The AARP has some key nuggets you should be aware of, including the fact that you can't sign up for Medicare until you're 65.
(More retirement stories.)

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