Baby boomers in the United States: Factors associated with working longer and delaying retirement

Am J Ind Med. 2017 Apr;60(4):315-328. doi: 10.1002/ajim.22694.


Objectives: This study estimated the self-reported probability of working full-time past age 62 (P62) or age 65 (P65) among four cohorts of Americans born between 1931 and 1959.

Methods: Data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) were analyzed. Respondents in four age cohorts were selected for comparison. Multivariable linear regression models were used to assess cohort differences in P62 and P65 while adjusting for covariates.

Results: P62 and P65 increased among boomers despite worsened self-rated health compared to the two preceding cohorts, with 37% and 80% increases among mid-boomers in construction trades. Cohort differences in P62 and P65 remained after controlling for covariates. Changes in pensions, income inequity, and education were significantly associated with work expectations, but SSA policy was not.

Conclusions: Baby boomers expect to work longer than their predecessors. Efforts to improve work quality and availability for older workers are urgently needed, particularly in physically demanding occupations. Am. J. Ind. Med. 60:315-328, 2017. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords: aging workforce; construction workers; health; pension plans; wealth.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Construction Industry / statistics & numerical data
  • Educational Status
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Occupations / statistics & numerical data*
  • Public Policy
  • Retirement / statistics & numerical data*
  • Social Security / statistics & numerical data
  • Time Factors
  • United States