Work and Retirement Patterns for the G.I. Generation, Silent Generation, and Early Boomers: Thirty Years of Change

Boston College Center for Retirement Research Working Paper No. 2010-8

60 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2010

See all articles by Richard W. Johnson

Richard W. Johnson

Urban Institute - Income and Benefits Policy Center; National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI)

Barbara A. Butrica

The Urban Institute

Corina Mommaerts

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Department of Economics

Date Written: July 1, 2010

Abstract

This study examines how the shifting choices and constraints facing older workers have changed work and retirement patterns over the past 30 years. Health improvements, declines in physical job demands, changes in Social Security rules, and the erosion in traditional defined benefit pension coverage and employer-sponsored retiree health insurance have altered work incentives at older ages. This paper compares labor force exits by older workers born 1913 to 1917 (part of the G.I. Generation), 1933 to 1937 (part of the Silent Generation), and 1943 to 1947 (part of the Baby Boom Generation). The analysis uses 16-year longitudinal panels from the Health and Retirement Study and decades-long administrative earnings records linked to respondents in the Survey of Income and Program Participation.

The results show that early boomers worked longer than members of the Silent Generation, and that the pathways older workers follow out of the labor force have become more complex over time. The median retirement age for men was about one-half year higher in the 1943–47 cohort than in the 1933–37 cohort (62 vs. 61.5), but differences were more pronounced at older ages. By age 65, for example, 40 percent of early boomer men had not yet retired, compared with only 20 percent of Silent Generation men. Both male and female workers in the 1933–37 cohort were much less likely than their counterparts in the 1913–17 cohort to follow the traditional retirement path of exiting the labor force from full-time employment and never returning to work.

Suggested Citation

Johnson, Richard Warren and Butrica, Barbara A. and Mommaerts, Corina, Work and Retirement Patterns for the G.I. Generation, Silent Generation, and Early Boomers: Thirty Years of Change (July 1, 2010). Boston College Center for Retirement Research Working Paper No. 2010-8, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1635829 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1635829

Richard Warren Johnson (Contact Author)

Urban Institute - Income and Benefits Policy Center ( email )

2100 M Street, NW
Washington, DC 20037
United States
202-261-5541 (Phone)
202-833-4388 (Fax)

National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI)

1776 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Suite 615
Washington, DC 20036-1904
United States

Barbara A. Butrica

The Urban Institute ( email )

2100 M Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20037
United States

Corina Mommaerts

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Department of Economics ( email )

William H. Sewell Social Science Building
1180 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1393
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
506
Abstract Views
1,896
rank
79,003
PlumX Metrics