What is the Average Retirement Age?

Publication Date: August 2011

Publisher: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College

Author(s): Alicia H. Munnell

Research Area: Labor

Keywords: retirement; working; labor force; women

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


Since working longer is the key to a secure retirement for the vast majority of older Americans, it is useful to take a look at labor force trends for those under and over age 65 for the last century.
This brief proceeds in three steps. The first section describes the long-run decline in labor force participation of men. The second looks at the turnaround that began in the mid-1980s. The third section discusses the trends for women, which combine their increasing labor force activity, on the one hand, and incentives to retire, on the other.
The final section concludes that labor force activity of both men and women has increased significantly since the mid-1980s as many incentives now encourage work. Several hurdles remain to continued increases, however, including the sluggish economic recovery, the move away from career employment, the availability of Social Security at 62, and employer resistance to part-time employment.