Early retiree couple walking in long grass near water on a sunny day

The Early Retirement Factor

Throughout the last part of the 20th Century most people retired between 60 and 64. Now the average retirement age is actually rising. With the growing economic uncertainty, some people may think that early retirement is bad for society; that those who retire, especially those who decide to retire early, will not be pulling their own weight. These attitudes reflect as growing attitude of ageism.

Let’s take a closer look at early retirement motivation. Generally, early retirement is taken by workers with health problems or those who have accomplished good incomes in anticipation of early retirement. Some companies providing private pension plans actually encourage early retirement so they can ether pay a lower salary to new employees or keep the job vacant.

People with low incomes and no pension plan report that they will never retire. One study in 1998 found that just less than half of all people reported that they expected to work after retirement and a large number of those who retired at 65 continued some kind of part-time work.

In British Columbia, the Provincial Government has recently dramatically cut spending and retirement itself is viewed creation of new dependency even though most retirees, early or not, continue to engage in socially useful activities including volunteering and part-time work.

Larry Anderson
photo credit: Larry Anderson

Sometimes, older people looking for work after early retirement find re-entry into the workforce difficult. For example, Ted, a former CEO, now in his seventies, retired at 58, thinking that is what he should do. But after a couple of years he discovered the whole syndrome of being “young-old”. He reports that, “You have all your juices, all your ability but no obligations to go work just for money.” Ted believes that, “When you’ve had power for a number of years, your value is your power not your abilities.” He further explains, “When you are out of the ‘power loop’ your abilities are no longer valued.” He reports: “I’ve started looking for another job, but being in my 70’s, I get a very cold reception. They seem to listen to you but they don’t see you. You’re a non-person.” This suggests that, with early retirement, he has ignored his attachment identity to work.

When did you or when do you plan to retire? What factors are you or did you use when deciding your personal retirement age?

Top Picks