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
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.
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