Which Will Work, Which Will Retire

We’re often told that baby boomers plan to make up for their youthful indolence by working beyond the traditional retirement age. Time will tell whether they have the stamina to do so. At the very least, though, data from the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research make it clear that the intention is more common than it was among 50somethings a decade ago. As recently as 1998, just 26.8 percent of female college graduates age 51-56 expected to work full-time past 65, vs. nearly four in 10 today (see the chart). Among men, the shift is particularly big among those with some college but no degree—from 32.4 percent in 1992 to nearly half in the current survey. Meanwhile, a new Census Bureau report on Illinois reveals the rise that’s already taken place there in workers 65 and older. Between 1990 and 2002, the number of such workers in business services jumped 145.5 percent; in the food-store sector, 105.2 percent; in health services, 75.3 percent; in general merchandise stores, 49.2 percent; and so on, across the economy.