Sun Life Tracks "Unretirement"

October 1, 2008 ( - Everybody talks about the changing face of retirement, but a new index purports to help put a face on that changing face.

The U.S. division of Sun Life Financial Inc. has unveiled the Sun Life Financial Unretirement Index, which the firm says will “track the changing attitudes and expectations American workers have regarding retirement.”   The Index, to be released multiple times each year, will gauge how economic, financial and societal forces are affecting working Americans, and will, according to the announcement, “forecast their future retirement decisions that will impact individuals, the government, employers, and the broader economy.”

The Sun Life Unretirement Index ranges from 0 to 100, and this inaugural study yielded an overall index score of 46. The lower the index number, the more negative or pessimistic people’s outlook are on issues that influence retirement.

The overall index is a composite score based on the performance of five issue-specific indices, including: the “economic index” (score = 30), the “personal finance index” (score = 48), the “health index” (score = 69), the “government benefits index” (score = 42), and the “employer benefits” index (score = 43).

Unretirement is defined as working at least 20 hours per week after the age when one is eligible to receive full Social Security benefits.

Sun Life notes that supporting data shows that nearly 40% of workers surveyed with household assets of more than $500,000 still plan to work at least part-time, while overall, more than 77% of those planning to work beyond age 67 (nearly half of the American workforce, according to Sun Life) will do so to earn enough money to live well.   Not that it's all about money.   The study revealed that 83% plan to be working at 67 "to stay mentally engaged."

"As our workforce evolves and attitudes are impacted by economic conditions and world events, the nature of retirement in America evolves as well," said Bob Salipante, President, Sun Life Financial U.S. "Traditional views on retirement are quickly evolving and more Americans are choosing to be unretired. This Index for the first time shows how changes in the economy, politics, healthcare and lifestyle are all critical factors in more and more Americans choosing to continue working during traditional retirement years."

Final indexes are based on summated averages across the attributes which make up an index. For more information and detailed findings of the Sun Life Unretirement Index visit

"The Index findings reveal differing expectations between the generations. At the intersection of generational values and external influences, the attitudes of both older and younger generations regarding work and active lifestyles are evolving," said author Dr. Carol Orsborn, Ph.D. "In particular, the Boomer generation is approaching the traditional age of retirement with their lifelong habit of challenging societal norms intact. They stand at the portal of advancing age more driven by their desire to stay engaged with achievements and family relationships than by the value of their portfolio."