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Attitudes of Individuals 50 and Older Toward Phased Retirement

Between 2002 and 2012, the number of workers age 55 and older is expected to grow by 49 percent while the number of workers under the age of 55 will grow by only 5 percent. As the workforce ages, employers who do not make an effort to attract and retain older workers may have difficulty finding qualified workers.

Phased retirement, or the opportunity to work a reduced schedule prior to full retirement while simultaneously collecting pension benefits, has the potential to help meet this need. Recently, the Internal Revenue Service proposed regulations that would help remove barriers to phased retirement for employees in traditional pension plans. This online survey of individuals age 50 and older was conducted by AARP to gauge reactions to the concept of phased retirement and to determine the extent to which phased retirement would encourage employees near retirement to extend their working life.

Findings reveal that nearly two in five age 50+ workers would be interested in participating in the type of phased retirement plan presented in the survey. Of workers who expressed interest in phased retirement, nearly four in five expect that the availability of such a plan would encourage them to work past their expected retirement age. Although respondents value the ability to work a reduced schedule while collecting some of their pension, they are wary of the possibility that phased retirement might reduce their final pension benefit.

The survey was conducted from January 6th through January 15th, 2005 by Knowledge Networks, a California-based research firm, using its web-enabled panel. This panel is designed to be representative of the U.S. population and was built by providing Internet devices and Internet service connections to people who have agreed to serve on the online panel. A total of 2,167 individuals participated in the survey. The report was prepared by S. Kathi Brown of AARP Knowledge Management who may be contacted at 202/434-6296 for further information. (28 pages)