Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Age of Retirement Rising for College Graduates

The average age of retirement is rising among men, but the increase is almost entirely limited to those with a college degree, according to an analysis by Matthew S. Rutledge of the Center for Retirement Research.

Among men with a college degree, the average age of retirement climbed from 64.6 in the 1990s to 65.7 in the 2010s—an increase of 1.1 years. For men with no more than a high school diploma, the average age of retirement rose from 62.2 to 62.8 during the time period—an increase of just 0.6 years. Why is the rise so much smaller among the less educated? According to Rutledge's research, four factors are at work:

  • Health disparities: Over the past few decades, the health of less-educated workers has improved less than the health of workers with a college degree. Consequently, the less-educated are more often forced by health issues to leave the labor force. 
  • Defined-contribution retirement plans: Less-educated workers are less likely than the better educated to have a defined-contribution retirement plan. Thus, they lack the incentive to remain at work longer to build up their retirement funds.
  • Early claiming of Social Security benefits: Less-educated workers account for most of those claiming early benefits, and this might make sense because of their lower life expectancy. "They tend to maximize their lifetime Social Security benefits by claiming before their FRA [full retirement age], and even as early as age 62."
  • Marital status: Less-educated workers are less likely than college graduates to be married and thus they do not have the incentive to delay retirement until their (typically younger) wife reaches retirement age.

Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, What Explains the Widening Gap in Retirement Ages by Education?

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