Many of us plan retirement for years. We contribute to our 401ks. We pick out a place in Florida. We tell our kids and grandkids that it’s going to be OK, but that they’re going to have to take care of themselves from now on. And then the day comes – we retire – and then, sometimes, we decide, that retirement is just not for us. Economists refer to this lifestyle U-turn as unretirement.
As indicated by writer Paul Span, unretirement is becoming more common. A 2010 analysis by a Harvard Medical School economist found that more than a quarter of retirees later resumed working. A more recent survey conducted by the RAND Corporation published in 2017 found that nearly 40 percent of workers over the age of 65 had at some point previously retired. A Pew Research Center analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides further evidence of the prevalence of unretirement and the desire or need among many to keep working. The Pew research indicates that the proportion of Americans over the age of 65 who were employed full or part time had climbed to nearly 19 percent by 2016, up from less than 13 percent in the year 2000. Many economists agree that even more people might resume working if they can find attractive options. Among those options is driving for companies like Uber or Lyft. It’s also worth noting that people often work not for money, but for satisfaction. Two thirds of older workers report satisfaction in work well done.