The Gallup organization has been polling baby boomers on a number of different topics and periodically releasing the results and drawing conclusions. A recent conclusion is this: When it comes to our retirement age, baby boomers are acting in accordance with our “live to work” reputation. I think that is kind of sad, don’t you?
Apparently I’m not alone in my feelings about retiring at age 57 or 61. The Gallup poll numbers show that 49% of boomers who are still working say they don’t expect to retire until they are at least 66. Ten percent believe they will never retire.
The age 66 number makes sense because that is the full retirement age for Social Security purposes. I suspect that the “never retire” group is having trouble financially.
Indeed, the Gallup poll bears this out. There is a direct correlation between boomers’ current financial condition and anticipated retirement age.
Boomers were asked to rate the following statement on a 1-5 scale: “You have enough money to do everything you want to do.”
These same baby boomers were then asked to state their expected retirement age.
Those who rated the question with a 1 (“strongly disagree”) expected to retire at age 73. Those boomers who answered with a 5 (“strongly agree”), expect to retire at 66.
This raises the question of why those who “strongly agree” that they have enough money are nevertheless planning on staying in the workforce until age 66. What is the source of this reluctance to retire?
I think it still involves financial security.
When the typical retirement age two decades ago was 57, many retirees were on significant corporate pension plans. They looked forward to a steady pension income in retirement along with retiree healthcare. For most, those plans are long gone along with many of the businesses that offered them. (Look what happened to the “old” GM and Ford.)
Even with a large retirement nest egg, pension-less baby boomers may still be concerned about outliving their money. A partial cure for that fear is hope for a larger Social Security check from the government. That means waiting to claim your benefits. Boomers who have their health and a decent job are just waiting, at least for their full retirement age. At that point, even if they continue to work, their Social Security benefits won’t decline.
Healthcare is also part of the financial security concern. Some of that may change, now that the Affordable Care Act makes it easier for boomers who are not yet 65 to get health insurance. This development may slow or reverse the boomer reluctance to retire mentality.
If you want to read more about how your fellow boomers responded to this Gallup poll, here is the report.