Early baby boomers will remain in the workforce beyond traditional retirement age, some forgoing the tradition of a leisure-filled life for retirees, according to the MetLife’s Mature Market Institute (MMI).

About 65% of early boomers participate in the workforce, and trends suggest that it will rise further in the future, according to a study by MMI, Westport, Conn., a unit of MetLife Inc., New York.

Many boomers will be unable to retire as anticipated because they may have debt from putting their children through college, borrowing against their homes and, in many cases, second home ownership, according to MMI.

Because they expect to live longer than their predecessors, early boomers–those born between 1946 and 1955–worry about outliving their savings. Their savings have been severely undermined by low interest rates and a difficult stock market, while for one in four, family finances have been stretched by the fact that adult children are still living with them.

“This group of highly educated individuals is also apt to find a welcoming employment market where their experience is desirable and where employers will recognize that they do not require benefits like health insurance due to their eligibility for Medicare,” said Sandra Timmermann, director of the MMI. “The preponderance of white-collar workers in this group will also make it easier for them to continue working.”

The report, coauthored by Timmerman and American demographics expert Peter Francese, also notes that in the past, about three-quarters of men and women would be fully retired within four to five years of their 65th birthday. But by the time the first early boomers approach age 70, fewer than half of those aged 65 to 69 will have retired.

Early boomers, now numbering 36 million, have enlarged the 55-to-64 age cohort more in the past decade than in the previous 30 years, making this age group the largest it has ever been, MMI observes.

The study found there are 1.3 million more early boomer women than men and projects that by 2020, there will be 2 million more. By then, at least one-third of households ages 65 to 74 will be headed by women.

At least two-thirds of early boomers are grandparents, and the Census Bureau reports a rising number are responsible for their grandchildren, MMI observes.

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