Retirement is changing. The question is how? A scan of retirement headlines suggests that it’s largely negative, driven by overburdened retirement structures and elderly people working minimum wage jobs long into their so-called Golden Years. I think the reality is more complex, and a lot of it is simply the recognition that we have new choices.

That was made clear by a recent survey1 that found 72% of pre-retirees, defined as people older than 50 but not yet retired, plan to work in some form during retirement. 5% said they plan to work full time, 35% plan to work part time and 33% hope to cycle between work and retirement. Only 28% replied that they planned never to work again.

It is easy to fit this into the narrative of retirement hardship, and certainly that is the reality for some, but a deeper look suggests there is more going on. While money is a factor, 51% of pre-retirees listed staying mentally active, 43% listed staying physically active and 32% listed social connections as reasons for working.

Interestingly enough, 58% of current retirees who are working are in a different line of work than their pre-retirement careers, with flexibility, more fun/less stress, and the desire to learn new things the top reasons for the switch. Marc Freedman, in his book, The Big Shift2, was one of the first to understand the change toward working retirement and the benefits it can bring, giving the phenomena the name Encore careers.

His research suggests that up to nine million people are engaged in Encore careers, which he defines as a new phase between what we would consider our main career and what we would traditionally consider old age. Freedman focuses a great deal on inspirational stories of reinvention, people who pursued their passions or became entrepreneurs who in a previous generation would have simply retired.

My own view is that a 65 year old today has more health, greater life expectancy and more to offer economically that a 65 year old of a generation or two ago. And even if finances force them to work longer than the traditional retirement age of 65, there is no reason for them to work in the same way or the same field. The more people recognize a new phase – some later in life in between stage similar to the way adolescence sits between childhood and adulthood – the more they can take advantage of it.

For a healthy person, working longer makes sense. They can pay more into the retirement system and delay taking benefits, which should increase the benefits they receive. But let’s not overlook the personal and societal benefits of working in a new way. When you consider the options, you may decide that “retirement” is not going to be part of your retirement, at least not yet. And that may be great news.

Chip Castille, Managing Director, is head of the BlackRock US Retirement Group.

1Work in Retirement: Myths and Motivations, Merrill Lynch, 20142The Big Shift, Navigating The New stage Beyond Midlife, by Marc Freedman, PublicAffairs, New York, 2011

Investopedia and BlackRock have or may have had an advertising relationship, either directly or indirectly. This post is not paid for or sponsored by BlackRock, and is separate from any advertising partnership that may exist between the companies. The views reflected within are solely those of BlackRock and their Authors.

Related Articles
  1. Retirement

    10 Ways to Save Your Retirement: It's Not Too Late

    It's not too late to start saving for your retirement, even if you took longer to start thinking about it and doing something about it.
  2. Retirement

    5 Ways to Use Your Home to Retire

    Retirement is going to cost a lot, and for homeowners who face a shortfall, their home can be a source of income. From downsizing to renting, here's how.
  3. Investing

    10 Ways to Effectively Save for the Future

    Savings is as crucial as ever, as we deal with life changes and our needs for the future. Here are some essential steps to get started, now.
  4. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Mutual Funds Millennials Should Avoid

    Find out what kinds of mutual funds are unsuitable for millennial investors, especially when included in millennial retirement accounts.
  5. Retirement

    Retire on 70% of Your Income? Why It's Not Enough

    Many people think 70% will be enough to support them in retirement, but they forget a few significant expenses that could lurk in the future.
  6. Professionals

    How to Protect Your Portfolio from a Market Crash

    Although market crashes are usually bad news for your portfolio, there are several ways to minimize losses or even profit outright from market movement.
  7. Professionals

    Why Women Are Underprepared for a Spouse’s Death

    Women are typically less prepared for the death of a spouse than men. An advisor can help mitigate some of the financial burdens widows may end up facing.
  8. Retirement

    How Robo-Advisors Can Help You and Your Portfolio

    Robo-advisors can add a layer of affordable help and insight to most people's portfolio management efforts, especially as the market continues to mature.
  9. Professionals

    3 Benefits of Working Longer (and Retiring Later)

    There are many reasons why folks in their 60s may want to keep working until at least age 70. Here are three.
  10. Professionals

    How to Get Free Social Security Spousal Benefits

    Married couples should thoroughly examine whether they are eligible to collect free spousal benefits on their Social Security income.
  1. What are the main kinds of annuities?

    There are two broad categories of annuity: fixed and variable. These categories refer to the manner in which the investment ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What are the risks of rolling my 401(k) into an annuity?

    Though the appeal of having guaranteed income after retirement is undeniable, there are actually a number of risks to consider ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How do I get out of my annuity and transfer to a new one?

    If you decide your current annuity is not for you, there is nothing stopping you from transferring your investment to a new ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How can I determine if a longevity annuity is right for me?

    A longevity annuity may be right for an individual if, based on his current health and a family history of longevity, he ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Are continuing care retirement communities accredited?

    Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) can be accredited through the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How are variable annuities taxed at death?

    If the owner of a variable annuity dies before receiving full payment, his beneficiary must pay taxes on any earnings received. ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!