Cal Halvorsen

Cal Halvorsen, PhD, MSW  

Assistant Professor, Boston College School of Social Work

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Cal J. Halvorsen, PhD, MSW, is an assistant professor at the Boston College School of Social Work and an affiliate of the Center for Aging & Work at Boston College. His research interests include the antecedents, experiences, and outcomes of longer working lives, with emphasis on later-life self-employment and entrepreneurship, encore careers, and older adults as social innovators. Notable research includes his recent investigation of entrepreneurial interest among older Americans (published in PLoS ONE), which found that a more diverse group of older adults are interested in starting new businesses and nonprofit organizations than those who actually do, with implications regarding how and where we support potential entrepreneurs and the importance of social safety nets in doing so. In addition to his quantitative work, he developed a conceptual framework on self-employment in later life to guide future research in this burgeoning field (published in Work, Aging & Retirement), as well as incorporated the method of system dynamics within the field of productive engagement in later life (published in Innovation in Aging). His dissertation research was funded by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College through a grant from the U.S. Social Security Administration. More of his scholarly publications can be found at Google Scholar.

Cal is a believer in the importance of public scholarship. As such, he was selected to join the inaugural class of the 2018-2019 Encore Public Voices Fellowship, receiving year-long training and support from experienced journalists on refining his public voice, including through op-eds. As a result of this training, he published his first op-ed in Fast Company on the inherent risks of later life entrepreneurship, was featured in an article cross-posted in both Next Avenue (PBS’s publication for people 50 and older) and Forbes, and was interviewed for the On the Brink podcast. Further, The Wall Street Journal featured his analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data on when older people will outnumber younger people.

Prior to earning his Ph.D., Cal worked for six years at, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to engaging people in midlife and beyond in paid and unpaid work that improves the world, later serving as the organization’s director of research and evaluation. During this time, Cal was invited to present at the University of Oxford in the U.K. as part of the OECD Expert Consultation on the Silver Economy, as well as the Körber Foundation and EBS Universität in Germany. He contributed to the 2008, 2011, and 2014 Encore Career Surveys of mid-life and older Americans, the 2011 Tapping Encore Talent survey of nonprofit leaders, and the 2010 report on engaging baby boomers in classrooms to help students succeed. Cal also acted as's liaison to higher education institutions, forging partnerships and developing tools for colleges, universities, alumni associations, and associations of higher education to make it easier for baby boomers and older adults to transition into their encore careers. Previous to this, he managed the organization's community college grants program and an awards program for nonprofit employers who created opportunities for Americans over the age of 50 to pursue encore careers.

As the recipient of the 2018-2019 Excellence in Teaching Award from the Boston College School of Social Work, Cal has taught courses related to aging societies, social work practice, and research methods at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. He also was elected to serve on the board of directors for the Association for Gerontology Education in Social Work. He is a graduate of both the MSW and Ph.D. programs at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis and earned his BA from the University of Iowa in his hometown of Iowa City.