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Delayed retirement among Americans may bolster future of Social Security and Medicare, study finds
Date:4/7/2010

researchers.

After more than a century of decline, the number of older American men and women in the workforce began to rise modestly during the 1990s. While about 17 percent of Americans aged 65 to 75 were employed in 1990, the proportion is expected to rise to 25 percent in 2010. A jump in employment among those aged 75 and older also has been seen.

Despite the steady increase in employment among older Americans, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the trend will begin to flatten this year for men aged 65 to 74 and by 2020 for men age 75 and older. The agency predicts a similar plateau for women beginning in 2020.

But RAND researchers say the forces that are causing people to delay retirement or reenter the workforce are strong enough to propel the current trend forward until at least 2030.

A principal reason why retirement rates have dropped is because of an evolution in the skill composition of the nation's workforce, according to the study. As American workers have gained more education, they have achieved jobs that are more fulfilling, they face fewer physical demands in the workplace and they are paid more for their efforts.

Adding to this phenomenon is the rise in the number of dual-earner families. Since couples tend to retire together and men often are older than their spouse, men may stay in the work force longer to accommodate their wives' work lives, according to the study.

While there have been several changes made to Social Security that encourage people to work longer, researchers say those changes appear to be a secondary force behind the trend observed thus far.

"More older Americans are extending their work lives both because they want more income and because their improved health allows a longer work life," said report co-author Nicole Maestas, a RAND economist. "Further encouraging longer work lives may prove beneficial to both individuals and the nation as a whole."'/>"/>

Contact: Warren Robak
robak@rand.org
310-451-6913
RAND Corporation
Source:Eurekalert

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