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COLUMN-Phased retirement: How Washington is leading the way | Reuters

14 August 2014—Kevin Cahill, Sloan Center's research economist is quoted in Reuters by Mark Miller.

Miller quoted: "About 600,000 people, or 31 percent of the federal civilian workforce, will be eligible for retirement by September 2017, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Phased retirees will be required to spend at least 20 percent of their time mentoring younger employees."

"It can help people who want to phase out over time, but it makes sense for the whole workforce," says Kevin E. Cahill, a research economist at Boston College's Sloan Center on Aging and Work. "Younger workers can tap into the knowledge that the older crowd has, and make sure it doesn't get lost lost."

Worker interest in a flexible glide path to retirement is strong, and it's not limited to the federal payroll. A survey this year by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found that 64 percent of workers - of all ages - envision a phased retirement involving continued work with reduced hours. For workers closest to retirement, frequently cited reasons for continued work included financial need (34 percent) and a desire for income (19 percent). But 34 percent had a desire to "stay involved" or said they enjoyed their work.

Employers have been slow to respond. Just 21 percent of respondents to the Transamerica survey said their employers offer phased retirement - and that figure may be too optimistic.

The Society for Human Resource Management reports that 11 percent of employers provide some version of phased retirement, with only 4 percent having formal programs. Cahill's research shows similar employer disinterest in phased retirement programs.

"Sometimes there are institutional or administrative restrictions," he says. "And some employers may have good reasons not to offer flexible hours."

Much more common, he found, are workers who find what they need by changing jobs. "These are bridge jobs that carry people through from their careers to withdrawal later on from the labor force," he says....

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