Will People Be Healthy Enough to Work Longer?

Alicia H. Munnell Jerilyn Libby

IB#7-3

Introduction

As recently as the mid-1960s, the median retirement age for men — the age at which half of all men are no longer in the labor force — was 66. Today, it is 63. But given the scheduled decline in Social Security replacement rates, increased longevity, and the relatively low balances in 401(k) accounts, Americans risk serious income shortfalls, especially at older ages, if they continue to retire at age 63. A rational response is to move the average retirement age back to 66 or even older. A key consideration is whether people will be healthy enough to work longer. This brief compares the health status of older people today with those forty years ago and explores what happens to people’s health as they age…