Are Boomers Happy to Forego Retirement?

Last Updated Jun 13, 2008 9:50 AM EDT

As a Baby Boomer I've suddenly taken an interest in that annual letter from the government showing how much I can expect from Social Security at retirement age.

But it's an intellectual exercise, to be truthful. I have no intention to "retire" from work. I plan to work as long as I can, although what I choose to work at may change and I'll be carving out a flexible schedule to be able to pursue other interests.

My attitude is not uncommon among the Boomer generation, says Tammy Erickson in a recent blog post on Harvard Business. She cites a Merrill Lynch study concluding that seven out every ten adults plan to work in some capacity past age 65, with almost half of those adults never planning to stop working completely. Says Erickson:

Yes, people certainly want to work in different ways -- with more flexibility and control. Most do not want to work as hard or as long as they are in their 50's for another thirty years. But most want to work.
Of course some will continue to work because they don't have a choice; more Boomers than not have failed to save enough gold for their "Golden Years." But Erickson believes that most folks in this generation will work because they want to, not because they have to.

Lucky us, then. The demographics are in our favor because a worker shortage is forecast over the next few decades. As my BNET colleague Jessica Stillman points out, companies are now figuring out how to entice their older workers to stay rather than ushering them out the door with a gold watch and pat on the fanny.

How are you thinking about retirement these days? Is your ideal a Florida golf course seven days a week? Maybe you'll use these years to give back to the community. Some of us will head back to the classroom either to learn or to teach. And still others will be stocking shelves at the Big Box down the street to pay the bills.

What's the future hold for you?

Related reading:

Early Retirement? You're Dreamin' (BNET Aussie Rules)

  • Sean Silverthorne

    Sean Silverthorne is the editor of HBS Working Knowledge, which provides a first look at the research and ideas of Harvard Business School faculty. Working Knowledge, which won a Webby award in 2007, currently records 4 million unique visitors a year. He has been with HBS since 2001.

    Silverthorne has 28 years experience in print and online journalism. Before arriving at HBS, he was a senior editor at CNET and executive editor of ZDNET News. While at At Ziff-Davis, Silverthorne also worked on the daily technology TV show The Site, and was a senior editor at PC Week Inside, which chronicled the business of the technology industry. He has held several reporting and editing roles on a variety of newspapers, and was Investor Business Daily's first journalist based in Silicon Valley.