Press Releases | Retirement

News from EPI Average retirement age higher than traditional measures suggest

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Contact:
Phoebe Silag or Karen Conner, news@epi.org 202-775-8810

Average retirement age higher than traditional measures suggest

A number of commentators have suggested that most American workers retire shortly after becoming eligible for Social Security benefits at 62 and could make up for proposed cuts to Social Security by working longer.  However, the average retirement age is higher than traditional measures suggest, a new Economic Policy Institute (EPI) briefing paper finds.  In The myth of early retirement, economist Monique Morrissey explains why existing measures of average retirement age are misleading and suggests a new, more accurate measure.

Over the past quarter century, the postwar trend of early retirement has reversed.  In fact, the share of 55-64-year-olds currently in the labor force is the highest on record, and the share of workers who are 55 or older is now the same as it was a half century ago.

Existing measures of the average retirement age are problematic because they either include people still working for pay or because they count people who are not in the workforce to being with, such as disabled people and full-time caregivers.  A better measure calculates the average retirement age as occurring when the labor force participation rate of the non-disabled workforce is at half its peak.  Using this measure, the average retirement age is currently 65.5.

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