Can Educational Attainment Explain the Rise in Labor Force Participation at Older Ages?

Gary Burtless

IB#13-13

The brief’s key findings are:

  • Over the past 25 years, the labor force participation of men age 60-74 jumped from 35 percent to 44 percent.
  • At the same time, the educational levels of older workers increased dramatically in both absolute terms and relative to prime-age workers.
  • Better educated workers are healthier and have more opportunities.
  • Indeed, the analysis suggests that rising education levels account for more than half of the increase in labor force participation.
  • Going forward, gains in education by older workers will slow considerably, which will slow further increases in their labor force participation.