What Explains the Widening Gap in Retirement Ages by Education?

IB#18-10

The brief’s key findings are:

  • The increase in the average retirement age has been driven almost solely by those with more education.
  • Those with less education have:
    • seen less improvement in health;
    • faced more physically demanding jobs and less flexible work schedules;
    • experienced slower increases in lifespans, meaning less to gain from delaying Social Security; and
    • seen steeper drops in marriage rates, providing less incentive to work longer in order to retire with a younger spouse.
  • These trends make it harder for those with less education to achieve a secure retirement.