Retirees Continue Working but not for the Reason You Think

February 24, 2006 ( - A study released by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) has found surprising differences in those who choose to utilize phased retirement and those who do not.

Many may think those of retirement age continue to work because they need the money. However, the AARP survey found that those who were in a phased retirement situation or who were working part-time in retirement were better educated, had greater household wealth and income, and were more likely to be managers and in white-collar, highly skilled positions than their retired or not yet retired peers.

Phased retirees were more likely to have a positive view of work – to see work as important by itself and not just as a means for making money. These retirees had a desire to keep working, even if they did not need the money, according to the study. Hence, the reason that the AARP discovered that, over time, phased retirees were less likely to ever fully retire than those who did not use phased retirement.

In addition, the study found that phased retirees were less likely to be black, less likely to face constraints on reducing hours, and less likely to participate in a defined benefit pension plan.

The AARP study examines various aspects of phased retirement, using six waves from 1992 through 2002 of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a longitudinal study sponsored by the National Institute on Aging. The HRS surveys and follows a nationally representative sample of persons who were between the ages of 51 and 61 in 1992. The AARP study distinguishes between workers who remained with their 1992 employer but at reduced hours (phased retirement) and those employed part time with a different employer (partial retirement). Researchers compare these two groups of workers to the “completely retired” and those who were “not retired at all.”

The full study report can be accessed here .