Personal Finance

Why retiring at 65 could become a thing of the past

Key Points
  • A majority of workers say that they plan to stop working after age 65 or never retire.
  • While 65 is still the age most workers around the world say they plan to quit, that default age is creeping up.
  • Countries such as the U.S., the Netherlands, France and Spain are all moving towards another age — 67.
Activists participate in a rally urging the expansion of Social Security benefits in front of the White House July 13, 2015.
Getty Images

Raising the retirement age is an emotional issue.

For evidence, just look at proposals to move up the full retirement age for Social Security. Even the idea upsets advocates who want to see the program expanded and individuals receiving benefits. Because of that, lawmakers tend to tiptoe around the issue.

Outside the U.S., French citizens have taken to the streets to protest President Emmanuel Macron's plan to overhaul the country's pension system. Among the proposed changes is raising the retirement age to 64 from 62 .

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Most workers do not want to be told they have to work longer.

Yet it turns out that in the U.S., many already anticipate extending their working years, according to recent research from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies.

A majority of workers — 54% — said they expect to stop working sometime after age 65 or never retire at all, the research found.

Meanwhile, just 24% said they plan to retire at 65, and 22% said they plan to retire earlier.

"People want to extend their working lives and plan to keep working in retirement," said Catherine Collinson, CEO and president of the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. "By and large, many simply have not yet saved enough to retire comfortably."

More than half of workers — 55% — said they plan to work either part-time or full time in retirement. While most of those respondents cited financial reasons for those plans, many also pointed to other reasons, many related to healthy aging, such as avoiding social isolation.

U.S. workers may also be driven to work longer for another reason: concerns about the future of Social Security, Collinson said. Three in 4 workers said they are worried that Social Security will not be there for them when they retire.

Separate research Transamerica conducted in collaboration with the Aegon Center for Longevity and Retirement looked at what age workers around the world expect to retire from all paid employment.

While the median (the middle in a list of numbers) age in the U.S. was 66, other countries varied. The Netherlands came in with the highest age, 67. China and Turkey came in with the lowest at 58.

The median was 65.

Still, the retirement age is creeping higher in the U.S. and elsewhere, Collinson said.

In the U.S., according to the Social Security Administration, full retirement age for individuals born in 1960 and later is 67.

Other countries are also moving in that direction, Collinson said. The Netherlands is already at 67, while France, Spain and Poland all have plans to move towards that age.

"That tends to be the prevailing benchmark," Collinson said.

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