Why Americans Are Waiting Longer Before Retiring
We’re finally seeing the effects of Social Security changes made in the 1980s.
Something significant is happening in Social Security: People are retiring and taking their benefits later. These trends are at least in part the consequence of policy changes made in the early 1980s that were purposefully delayed in their implementation.
Consider this: In 1997, 57 percent of men claiming their retirement benefits under Social Security were 62, the earliest age at which one can do so. By 2017, that share had dropped to 34 percent because more people elected to put off claiming their benefits. As a result, the average age of a new male beneficiary has risen by a full year. (These data exclude disabled workers. There are other ways of doing the calculations, but they all show the same phenomenon.)
Not surprisingly, taking Social Security benefits later is also associated with delayed retirement. According to data from the Current Population Survey tabulated by Courtney Coile of Wellesley College, 38 percent of those aged 62 to 64 were working in 1990. By 2017, that share had risen to 53 percent.
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