A new Issue in Brief published by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, titled, What Explains the Widening Gap in Retirement Ages by Education?, examined retirement ages by level of education.
Over the last three decades, the average retirement age has increased by about three years, to 64.6 for men and 62.3 for women. But this trend is not uniform across socioeconomic groups: for example, high school graduates are retiring just a bit later than in the 1990s, leading to a wide gap between them and college graduates.
According to the Brief’s author, individuals with less education have seen less improvement in health; faced more physically demanding jobs and less flexible work schedules; experienced slower increases in lifespans, meaning less to gain from delaying Social Security; and seen steeper drops in marriage rates, providing less incentive to work longer in order to retire with a younger spouse.
“Unless these factors reverse, and without a stronger response to insufficient retirement saving, the less-educated are likely to continue retiring too early. In that event, they will face lower living standards in retirement and greater reliance on programs targeted at retirees with low incomes, such as Supplemental Security Income,” the Brief noted.