Study: 76% of Boomers Plan to Work and Earn in Retirement

February 22, 2005 ( - Seventy-six percent of Boomers intend to keep working and earning in retirement, according to a new study, with Boomers on average expecting to retire from their current job at around 64 and then launch into a new career.

According to a Merrill Lynch study – The New Retirement Survey – Boomers expect to take advantage of the “longevity bonus” that is artificially given due to Social Security establishing the “normal” retirement age at 65, and the increased life expectancy since the program’s inception.

Sixty-five percent of the group plan to retire in the traditional sense, but this will not come until later – probably in their late 60’s – according to the study. Many different retirement plans exist with Boomers, however: 42% expect to repeatedly “cycle” between periods of work and leisure, while 16% plan to work part time. Thirteen percent plan to start their own business, while 6% plan to work full time. Only 17% hope to never work for pay again, according to the study.

It’s not solely about the money, either, according to the study. While 37% of Boomers indicate that continued earnings is a very important part of the reason they intend to keep working, 67% say that mental stimulation and challenge is what will keep them working in some capacity.

Worries exist about retirement as well, with the cost of illness and health care the leading issue. Major illness is a worry for 48% of Boomers, while worrying about paying for health care consumes 53%. Winding up in a nursing home concerns 48%, while only 17% worry about dying.

Boomer women have done much better than their mothers in saving for retirement, according to the study. Married boomer women are over six times as likely to share responsibility for savings and investments as their mothers’ generation was, by a margin of 33% to 5%.

Boomers seem to care more about living well with their retirement nest egg than living long. Acquiring the resources Boomers believe they need for retirement freedom (81%), rather than age (56%) or any other variable, was cited as the most decisive factor for when they choose to retire, according to the study.

The study was conducted by Merrill Lynch in February and March, 2004. A total of 2,348 US adults between the ages of 40 and 58 were asked for their response on a variety of issues relating to retirement planning.