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What, me retire?

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The age at which Americans plan to retire is creeping upward. A recent Gallup poll found that 37 percent of working Americans said they expect to retire after age 65, which is up from 22 percent a decade ago and 14 percent in 1995.

Similarly, the percentage of nonretirees who said they intend to retire before age 65 has declined to 26 percent from 49 percent in 1995. Those who plan to retire at age 65 held at 26 percent, according to Gallup.

In April, Gallup polled roughly 2,000 adults age 18 and older, split between about 600 retirees and 1,400 nonretirees.

The average working American now expects to retire at age 66, up from 60 in 1995. Meanwhile, the average retirement age for those who have already left the workforce was 61. That contrasts to the average retirement age of 57 in 1993 and 59 in 2003.

However, Gallup points out that since most of the upswing came before the 2008 recession, the change in retirement age expectations may not be solely based on the economy. “It may also indicate changing norms about the value of work, the composition of the workforce, the decrease in jobs with mandatory retirement ages, and other factors,” said Alyssa Brown of Gallup, in a summation of the poll. She also stated the average retirement age will continue to increase in the coming years.

Nevertheless, the vast majority – 61 percent – said they are worried about having enough money to sustain them during retirement. Therefore, delaying retirement is seen as a way to help them fund a more secure golden years.

Further, postponing retirement may not be so bad health-wise. Americans age 60 to 69 who still work report slightly better emotional health than those who do not, with the relationship stronger for Americans in fair or poor health.

How close a person is to retirement age also makes a difference in when they plan to exit the workplace, with those closer to age 65 more likely to project a later retirement age than those who are further away from retirement. More than half of workers aged 58 to 64 expect to retire after age 65, compared with 36 percent of nonretirees between 50 and 57. For those aged 30 to 49, 38 percent plan to retire after 65 while just 26 percent of those younger than 30 expect to continue working after 65.

A decline in retirement savings accounts due to the recession may explain why the older group envisions a later retirement. At the same time, younger workers anticipate their retirement assets will be healthy enough for them to retire at age 65 or younger, despite the uncertainty surrounding Social Security and Medicare.

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