There’s never been a one-size-fits-all approach to retirement. While some adults choose to hang it up at age 65 or sooner and never work a day in their lives again, the reality for most is more nuanced – and not everyone who stays in the workforce does so for the same reasons.
CivicScience recently asked U.S. adults aged 55-and-older about their intentions on working later in life. Over one-third of adults over 55, but not yet 65, say they will ‘definitely’ work past the age of 65 – with a majority in this age range at least considering it a possibility. CivicScience data show that 12% of U.S. adult respondents 65+ are still working, with an additional 41% in this age group claiming they previously worked past 65 but are retired now.
Interestingly enough, those aged 55-64 whose annual household income is $100,000+ are the most likely (38%) to say they’ll ‘definitely’ work past the age of 65, while those earning under $50,000 are the least likely (30%) to say the same.
Asian or Pacific Islander and Black respondents aged 55-64 are the most likely to say they will ‘definitely’ be working after they turn 65 (64% and 49%, respectively). Hispanic or Latino adults aged 55-65 are the most likely to say they will not be working after 65 – but they too outpace the Gen Pop in saying they ‘definitely’ will work past the age of retirement eligibility.
Why will adults continue to work past 65?
Nearly half of all adults 55+ who plan to work past the age of 65 or already are will do so to maintain a steady source of income (49%). The next largest share, one-quarter of this age group, will keep working to keep up their mental and emotional fitness, with 16% doing so for benefits like health insurance. Among those earning under $50,000, 57% plan to keep working past 65 to maintain a steady income, while those making $100,000+ over index on intending to continue working to maintain mental and emotional fitness.
Generally speaking, the more healthy a working adult over the age of 65 or an over-55 adult who intends to work later in life, the more likely they are to be working to maintain mental and emotional fitness. The least healthy adults in this age range are the most likely to keep working past 65 for a steady source of income. Adults working to pursue new interests, community, or maintain mental fitness are more likely to report being healthy (91%) compared to those seeking income or benefits (81% claiming to be very or pretty healthy).
Although a slim percentage of adults 55-and-older polled report being unhappy, those working past 65 for the steady income or benefits are significantly less likely to report being happy. Adults in this age group currently earning under $50,000 and working for income/benefits are more likely than higher earners to report feeling ‘so-so’ or some degree of unhappiness. Far and away the most likely working adults past 65 to report being happy are doing so to pursue new interests (79% are happy) or for the social aspect / to be part of a community (71% are happy).
While their reasons may vary, a significant share of adults approaching retirement age will keep working past the age of 65 – some for sustained income and benefits, others for mental enrichment and social interactions that might prove increasingly hard to come by. Adults in this age group earning $100,000+ are the most likely to continue working – and more commonly for mental and emotional fitness – while those earning under $50,000 need to continue to maintain steady income. Although income, health, and happiness are all motivators in their own way for adults to work past the retirement age, there’s a wide spectrum of Americans over 65 who won’t be coasting into retirement.
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This article originally appeared in partnership with the Roar Report.