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Working Longer: Aging, Work, and Retirement Planning in America

With funding from The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research conducted a study of 1,075 Americans age 50 and older on issues related to work and retirement.

To get a comprehensive picture of the work and retirement issues facing older Americans, The AP-NORC Center has conducted two major studies with funding from The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The first study, conducted in 2013, explored the modern concept of retirement, which is shifting to later in life for many and also no longer involves a complete departure from the workforce. It also investigated anxieties about retirement planning and the factors older Americans consider when making decisions about the transition to retirement.

This new study, conducted in 2016, extends this work and examines new topics in two separate reports that detail the findings on older Americans’ trend toward working longer in life and the retirement issues they face.

The first report entitled, Working Longer: The Disappearing Divide Between Work Life and Retirement, reveals that the traditional picture of leaving the workforce entirely and entering retirement at age 65 is no longer a reality for many older people in the United States. The findings show that a majority of Americans age 50 and older plan to work past the age of 65 or have already stayed in the workforce past this age. A quarter of those who haven’t yet retired say they never will. And many of these older workers continue to pursue new opportunities in the later stages of their careers, with 4 in 10 planning to switch career fields in the future and more than a quarter recently completing job training or additional education.

The second report entitled, Retirement Planning in America: Anxiety, Inequality, and the Role of Social Security, focuses on attitudes and planning behaviors about retirement. The results reveal a number of inequalities in older Americans’ retirement planning, with significant divides between lower- and upper-income Americans. Income levels and feelings of anxiety are also related to the type and number of income sources individuals have or expect to rely on during retirement. Many older Americans plan to rely heavily on Social Security to fund their retirements and also plan to take these benefits early, even though doing so may reduce the total amount they receive.

Taken together, these results provide insights for employers navigating new terrain as they face an older workforce, and for policymakers grappling with how to help older Americans with the transition into retirement. They also inform the debate around the Social Security program.

 Report

Working Longer: The Disappearing Divide between Work Life and Retirement

Retirement Planning in America: Anxiety, Inequality, and the Role of Social Security

Topline Results

Public Use Files and Codebook

 Journalism Fellowship

The AP-NORC Journalism Fellowship Program

The Economics of Aging and Work Fellowship
The AP-NORC Journalism Fellowship Program

The Economics of Aging and Work Fellowship - See more at: http://www.apnorc.org/projects/Pages/working-longer-the-disappearing-divide-between-work-life-and-retirement.aspx#sthash.KbhKdj2c.dpuf