65 is no longer the traditional retirement age

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Americans age 50 and over are increasingly disregarding age 65 as the time to stop working. In a poll conducted by market research and consulting firm, Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, more than 70 percent believe that keeping experienced workers engaged in society - either through continuing work or volunteering - is very important.

The poll was commissioned by Experience Wave, a campaign supported by The Atlantic Philanthropies that advances federal and state policies to make it easier for mid-life and older adults to stay engaged in work and community life.

Additional findings include:

  • 53 percent said the coming wave of baby boomers hitting retirement age will be an asset to society as they represent a pool of skilled workers with more time to dedicate to their communities.
  • 76 percent said that society should invest in resources to guarantee older Americans opportunities to stay engaged.
  • 53 percent of respondents were retired, and 45 percent were still in the workforce in some capacity.

** Of the respondents currently retired, 68 percente said they retired before age 65.

** Of the respondents not yet retired, 32 percenet said they expected to retire before age 65.

** 27 percent of respondents not yet retired either didn't know when they will retire or did not plan to retire at all.

  • 59 percent of respondents who plan to retire expect to volunteer for a nonprofit or community organization. An additional 14 percent plan to get training or learn a new skill for a different career.

"From where I stand, the wheels of American politics are slowly turning in our direction," said Harris Wofford, former U.S. Senator, Peace Corps Founder and 81-year-old spokesperson for the Experience Wave campaign.

Experience Wave aims to advance interests of people who will postpone or forego retirement by promoting policies that remove barriers and provide wider opportunities for older people to continue working or re-enter the workforce if they have already retired, enhance lifelong learning that is adapted to the unique needs of experienced workers who want to advance in or change careers, and open doors for older people to engage in meaningful charitable or pro bono work.

Methodology: Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates conducted 1,016 telephone interviews among likely voters over the age of 50, from October 6-12, 2007. Margin of error for the entire sample is ± 3.07, and larger for subgroups.

In 2006, the first of the 77 million baby boomers, Americans born between 1946 and 1964, turned 60. Experience Wave seeks to advance federal and state policies that will enable the country to seize the opportunities facing us as the unprecedented large number of baby boomers reaches traditional retirement age.

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