New Expectations, New Rewards: Work in Retirement for Middle-Income Boomers

May 2015

A generation ago, retirement meant moving from a life of full-time work to one focused on full-time leisure. Today, however, the views and expectations for work and retirement are rapidly changing, and middle-income Baby Boomers who work in retirement describe an experience very different than their work experience before retirement.

With implications for both consumers and employers, New Expectations, New Rewards: Work in Retirement for Middle-Income Boomers brings quantitative insight to the rapidly changing role of work in the new retirement equation and explores how Boomers are blurring the lines between working for pay and retirement. 
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  • One-third (28%) of retired Boomers are either currently employed in retirement or have been employed for pay previously in retirement.
  • Of retired Boomers who are not currently employed, half (48%) would like to work but cannot, most often because of health reasons.
  • More than three-quarters (78%) of employed retirees report they are as satisfied or more satisfied with their job compared with their pre-retirement work. One-third (32%) report being much more satisfied now.
  • Among retirees who retired earlier than expected, nearly eight in ten (79%) retired early for reasons that were not in their control, such as their health (39%) or being laid off (19%).

*Bankers Life Center for a Secure Retirement, New Expectations, New Rewards: Work in Retirement for Middle-Income Boomers, 2015.

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This study from the Bankers Life Center for a Secure Retirement—New Expectations, New Rewards: Work in Retirement for Middle-Income Boomers—was conducted in February and March 2015 by the independent research firm The Blackstone Group.

These findings are from two internet-based surveys:

  1. Main survey: a nationwide sample of 1,005 middle-income Boomers (between the ages of 51 and 69 with an annual household income between $25,000 and $100,000). Quotas were established based on the U.S. Census Current Population Survey data for age, gender and income to obtain a nationally representative sample. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
  2. Supplemental survey: a nationwide sample of 2,293 retired middle-income Boomers to assess the percentage of retired Boomers who are working in retirement. The margin of error is +/- 1.6 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. 

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