Study: Grandpa Just Can't Stand It Without Work

Thursday, December 08, 2005


I can't say whether it is because they are incurable workaholics or because grandma is lying on their ears too much all day long; but America's retirees are happy to get a job again after an average pause of only one and a half years since they received their gold watch. According to a study by Brightwork Partners and Putnam Investments 7 million retired Americans have entered the workforce again, two thirds not because they had to, but because they wanted. They represent 10% of the labor force aged 40 and older.
No wonder, with average assets of $550,000 their choice is a lot easier than that of the "have to" retirees whose nest egg averages $140,000. While the current US savings rate is below zero, one can't fault the elderly for it. More than three quarters save on average 11% of their income and I hope they don't need to bail out their happy spending offspring with it at a later point of time.
Even if they can afford it with average household incomes of $86,600 or 60% more than full-time retirees; although it would be nice to know the median income.
The housing bubble should not drive them into homeless shelters. Only 47% own their domiciles.
There is a happiness gap between the "wanted to" and the "have to" reborn members of the labour force. More than 40% of the first group think working again might be fun vs. 16% of the "have to's". This proves the rule that money does not make a person happy; but it is so comforting to have it.
The will to work must put a smile on the faces of employers and the administration too. While employers get highly educated laborers a termination of their contracts will not show up in the unemployment rate (although it does in non-farm payrolls), keeping government propaganda intact.
In Europe the situation is certainly different. A flat trend in pension payments and unemployment rates double of the figure in the US leave retiress without a choice. European governments want to raise the minimum retirement ages well above 65 years, but people older than 40 have close to zero chances in the labor market, one observes.

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