Retiring Earlier than Planned: What Matters Most?

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The brief’s key findings are:

  • More than a third of older workers retire earlier than planned: the question is why?
  • This study looks at: 1) the impact of unexpected changes in health, employment, family, and finances on early retirement; and 2) the prevalence of these shocks.
  • The findings suggest that:
    • Health shocks play the largest role, mainly because they are widespread.
    • Job loss without finding a new job, while not as prevalent, is also important.
    • Family transitions have a modest impact, while financial shocks appear to have little effect.
  • A key caveat is that all the shocks combined explain only about a quarter of earlier-than-planned retirements, so clearly other factors are also at play.