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Many Want to Slow Down, Not Stop, in Retirement

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It’s time to toss away some of the old notions about working in retirement, including the reasons people do so.

According to a study by Merrill Lynch and a think tank called Age Wave, nearly three-quarters of pre-retirees over the age of 50 say their ideal retirement will involve working.

“Work in Retirement: Myths and Motivations” is a comprehensive study based on a nationally representative poll of more than 7,000 respondents that will turn “conventional wisdom on its head,” according to Andy Sieg, head of Global Wealth and Retirement Solutions for Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

“By embracing these new realities and attitudes toward work in retirement, everyone from policy makers to employers and the financial industry will be better equipped to help people pursue their goals,” Sieg said.

The study showed that while previous generations saw retirement as the permanent end of work followed by continuous leisure, the modern-day reality for many retirees and pre-retirees is a dynamic future that it defines as “the new retirement workscape.”

“This study confirms that as people live longer and healthier lives, they’ll continue to find satisfaction from work even after they retire from their primary career,” said Ken Dychtwald, founder and CEO of Age Wave.

“For many, work is an enriching experience that may not end at the age of 65 or even 70. Whether it’s continuing to do what they love, pursuing a long-desired interest or simply seeking to remain socially engaged, there’s a revolution brewing. People have come to realize that retirement doesn’t necessarily represent the end of an active life, but rather the beginning of new and exciting chapters.”

Moreover, the point here is that retirees will work not for the money as much as for plenty of other reasons. The No. 1 reason they’re working, the survey found, is “to stay mentally active.” Money came in at No. 4, after “to stay physically active,” “social connections” and “sense of identity/self-worth.”

And 80% of the working retirees said they work because they “want to;” 20% said they work because they “have to.”

When working retirees were asked to share their best advice for people who want to work in retirement, 76% said “be open to trying something new” and 73% said “be willing to earn less to do something you truly enjoy.”

Other tips include keeping up with technology, with seven times as many citing the importance of this as opposed to trying to look younger as a way to improve their ability to work in retirement.

“Baby boomers are once again redefining a life stage,” said David Tyrie, head of Retirement and Personal Wealth Solutions for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “They’re blazing a new path through retirement that is more fulfilling, stimulating, and financially viable for themselves and their families.”

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