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AARP Life Reimagined Survey Finds More People Expect to Work Longer

For those 35 and older, traditional retirement age no longer exists

AARP: Retirement survey 2016

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Most respondents say they expect to have to keep working past the traditional retirement age of 65.

A growing number of people believe that retirement at 65 might be a thing of the past. That's according to a new AARP Life Reimagined survey of 1,026 adults age 35 and older.

Just over half of respondents say they expect to have to keep working past the traditional retirement age of 65. It's not that they want to work forever — 87 percent of those currently working full time say they want to retire someday, and most hope to retire by 65 — they just don't think they will be able to afford to stop. Indeed, 11 percent of these respondents say they expect to keep working into their 80s or beyond.


That belief speaks to the high levels of financial stress among adults age 35 and up. The survey finds that half of respondents say they lose sleep over their financial worries. If money were not a concern, they say they would spend time volunteering or traveling, and almost half of those in the workforce would quit their job. Half of those working say they would prefer to do a different kind of job, such as one helping others or being creative.

Many people find it difficult to manage life transitions, such as getting married or divorced, getting or losing a job, moving or facing a major illness. About half of respondents say money is a major barrier to navigating these kinds of transitions, and about one in five say they don't know where to begin.

"Many are feeling overwhelmed by the challenges that these new life transitions present," says Carey Kyler, Vice President of New Product Innovation and New Product Development at AARP. AARP's Life Reimagined platform aims to provide people with the tools they need to stay relevant in today's workforce and to find inspiration as they plan for what's next, she says.

See also: Keep more of your savings

The survey also finds that:

  • One in three respondents say spending time with friends or family is what gets them most excited about the day.

  • One in three say their health is going to be their most important challenge over the next five years. That's more than the percentage who cite their most important challenge as related to their children (13 percent), their work (10 percent), their home (9 percent) or their romantic relationships (8 percent).
  • Only one in three respondents say they would describe their lives as "thriving." The rest are divided between saying they are in a rut (27 percent) and on a plateau (29 percent).

  • Among the two in 10 respondents losing sleep over work concerns, the most common worry is the stress of daily tasks, followed by not being paid enough or being unemployed. Among the 49 percent of respondents losing shut-eye over financial stress, the biggest concern is paying for basic needs, followed by having enough money for emergencies and saving enough for retirement.

  • About half of respondents who are currently working full time believe they will retire at an older age than their parents' generation retired, with only 16 percent saying they will be younger.

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