Increasing life expectancy means that “retirement savings will have to last longer” for those already retired or who are coming up on retirement, although the trend toward working longer may partly offset that impact, according to an analysis by the Urban Institute.
The study also underscored how other trends are reshaping retirement, summing up the overall picture in this way: “Forty-eight million Americans were age 65 and older in 2015, 18 percent more than just five years earlier . . . In 2010, there were 0.25 adults age 65 and older for every adult ages 25 to 65. By 2060, that ratio will nearly double to 0.48.”
The growing burden on the working younger people to fund Social Security, Medicare and other programs for older persons “could shrink somewhat, however, if older adults retired later.”
That is happening: “Between 1994 and 2014, the share of men participating in the labor force–those working or looking for work–increased from 45 to 56 percent at ages 62 to 64 and from 27 to 36 percent at ages 65 to 69. Over the same period, the share of women participating in the labor force increased from 33 to 45 percent at ages 62 to 64 and from 18 to 28 percent at ages 65 to 69,” it said.
Helping make it possible, it said, are two other trends: the rising educational levels of those age 65 and older and the improved health of those persons, compared with the past.
A person’s education level “matters at older ages, because better-educated people tend to earn more over their lifetimes, accumulate more wealth, and experience fewer health problems than people with less education.” They also tend to be in less physically demanding jobs, in which working remains possible even at older ages.
Better health can allow people to work longer as well, it said, although it added that the overall improvement in health has moderated in recent times due to factors such as increased rates of diabetes.