College Graduates More Likely to Delay Retirement

Highly educated workers often continue working after age 65

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The most educated members of our population are the most likely to continue working after age 65. Male college graduates age 65 to 69 were 58 percent more likely than high school graduates to participate in the labor force in 2009 and nearly twice as likely to work as those who did not complete high school, according to a recent Urban Institute analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The contrast is even more dramatic for women. Females with at least a bachelor’s degree were 61 percent more likely than high school graduates to be employed during their late 60s.

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Many educated older workers choose to delay retirement because they enjoy their work. “Older college grads work more because their jobs are generally less physically demanding and more fun,” says Richard Johnson, coauthor of the study. “The work tends to be more intellectually challenging, generally involves less drudgery, and is often more personally fulfilling.”

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 Older workers with at least a bachelor’s degree also generally have an easier time finding work. “Employers tend to value well educated older workers much more than those with no more than a high school diploma, so college grads have better employment prospects,” Johnson says. “Better educated people also tend to be healthier than those with less schooling, so they are generally better able to work later.”

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About half (48 percent) of male college graduates and 37 percent of women with at least a bachelor’s degree between the ages of 65 and 69 were employed in 2009, compared to 30 and 23 percent of high school graduates respectively.