I recently ran across a report from the World Future Society detailing emerging trends that are shaping the world. In it, they argued that “the traditional age of retirement is losing it’s significance.” They went on to argue that:
People in the developed world are retiring well before 65. In fact, they cite data that less than 60% of people aged 54-60 in such countries had a job in 2004.
As of 2006, the average American planned to retire at 61, but… Actual retirement age averaged just under 58 years old.
Many of these retirements aren’t permanent. Americans in particular often return to work after retiring.
Paradoxically, 70% of American Baby Boomers plan to work into their 70s. Supposedly, this isn’t because they can’t afford to retire, but rather because they can’t stand to be healthy and inactive.
The upshot, they say, is that:
People increasingly will work at one career, “retire” for a while (perhaps to travel) when they can afford it, return to school, begin another career, and so on in endless variations. True retirement, a permanent end to work, will be delayed until very late in life.
So… People are leaving the workplace earlier than ever, but are ultimately returning to work well beyond traditional retirement age. I wonder how much of this is a byproduct of older workers being laid off and then having to scramble to find a new job, as opposed to people choosing to switch gears midstream.
Speaking for myself, I can definitely see the attraction of early retirement. That being said, I can also imagine getting restless, especially once our kids are grown. But it sure would be nice to have free rein over how I spend my time — whether it be freelancing, volunteering, or whatever.