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Older, better and earning more

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Monday, June 3, 2013
Posted: 5 pm ET

Retirement doesn't look the same as it did prior to 1985, when Dad hung up his work boots.

Consider these amazing retirement planning statistics offered by Gary Burtless, who holds the John C. and Nancy D. Whitehead chair in economic studies at the Brookings Institution. Burtless has been studying this issue on behalf of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

In 1985, men 60 to 74 earned about 20 percent less per year than men between the ages of 25 and 59. Since then, that difference has gone away. The workplace earnings of men ages 60 to 64 have increased 54 percent, while the earnings of 65- to-69-year-olds have increased 164 percent, and the earnings of 70- to 74-year-olds have tripled. Women's numbers aren't quite as dramatic, but they've increased as well.

In terms of hourly wages, in 2010, men between the ages of 60 and 74 were paid 20 percent more than the average worker who was between 25 and 59. Women between ages 60 and 74 earned 10 percent more than their younger counterparts.

Education makes the difference, especially compared to the way it was when your dad retired.

As recently as 1985, nearly half of people between the ages of 70 and 74 lacked a high school diploma and only about 10 percent had a college degree. By 2010, more than 30 percent of men and women between the ages of 60 and 64 held a college diploma -- a slightly higher percentage than among 40- t0 44-year-olds.

The upshot is that the combination of knowledge, age and experience adds up to greater productivity for older people, even compared to workers at the prime of their careers. Burtless predicts that this situation is likely to persist for another 20 years, especially considering the cutbacks in spending on education, allowing older, better educated workers of both sexes to hold onto their jobs and their paychecks -- and turning retirement on its ear.

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July 16, 2013 at 3:40 pm

I wonder if successful Hollywood celebs,rap/rock stars, authors, board executives, or anyone else in that league receive SS or SSD? No offense intended. Just curious.

sally j. abercrombie
June 13, 2013 at 3:36 pm

well i am 65 and i can't get ss or ssi.i was already married when i i received ssi,but in 2012 they terminated me-they said i had not reported that i had was married.figure it out.i applied in the 1990's,i married my husband in 1989.what do you think?should i at least be able to get social security?oh yah,i forgot to tell you that i am also disabled.i have bi-polar,diabetes,factor5,heart problems,and i have to use a pap-and oxgen,oh yay,i take 21 pills a day plus additional ones 3-times a week.thanks for letting me vent.

Susan L.
June 06, 2013 at 5:06 pm

That is great news, if you want to keep on working. Personally I don't. I have worked for almost 40 years as it is and it is no longer that satisfying to get up every morning and go someplace, when I could actually be having fun.

One thing you should include in your research is how many people are moving abroad during retirement because they are fed up with the politics, cost of living, bad health care that is expensive and the stress of living in the US anymore.

Retirement for many can be a blessing, if you have money, but if not this country does not treat you well. If you are not productive and poor to boot you are considered worthless.

Thankfully I am approaching retirement and hope that I have enough money saved and that social security will hold out. Oh yes, I will probably move abroad, once I find the right country.