Occupational Transitions at Older Ages: What Moves are People Making?

41 Pages Posted: 22 Jan 2017

See all articles by Amanda Sonnega

Amanda Sonnega

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Survey Research Center

Brooke Helppie-McFall

University of Michigan, Survey Research Center

Robert J. Willis

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: September 1, 2016

Abstract

Given the clear benefit for both public and private finances of extending work lives, many policymakers are interested in finding and promoting ways to accomplish this objective while balancing concerns for work ability at older ages. At the same time, retirement itself is transforming from a simple transition from full-time work to full and permanent retirement to more of a process, potentially occurring in several stages over a number of years. We consider a set of work transitions at ages when the largest numbers of people are retiring and potentially pursuing different paths to full and permanent retirement. Among workers who transition between occupations, the most common transitions are between those that are closely related. However, even within closely related occupations, there are no large pipelines between any two. By age 62, 57 percent of workers are no longer in the labor force, 26 percent are still in their “career” occupation, and 17 percent have changed from their career occupation to another occupation. Beginning at age 66, however, the percentages in different occupations, which may be bridge employment or unretirement, are very similar to the percentages remaining in career occupations. Occupational changes later in life tend to be accompanied by decreases in hourly earnings, suggesting that if workers are seeking flexible or part-time bridge employment, it may come at a cost.

Keywords: older workers, unretirement, work transitions

Suggested Citation

Sonnega, Amanda and McFall, Brooke Helppie and Willis, Robert J., Occupational Transitions at Older Ages: What Moves are People Making? (September 1, 2016). Michigan Retirement Research Center Research Paper No. 2016-352. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2902736 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2902736

Amanda Sonnega (Contact Author)

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Survey Research Center ( email )

Ann Arbor, MI
United States
734-615-4589 (Phone)
734-615-2180 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.mrrc.isr.umich.edu/

Brooke Helppie McFall

University of Michigan, Survey Research Center ( email )

426 Thompson St
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
United States

Robert J. Willis

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Economics ( email )

611 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1220
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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