Unlike past economic downturns when retirements slowed, retirements spiked during the pandemic, fueled by concerns over COVID-19 and surges in stock and home prices.
The retirements were not uniform across industries. The highest percentages were among educators and professionals (lawyers, engineers, managers, and so on).
But, as the title of the paper suggests, some retirees may end up coming back to the workforce, whether by choice or circumstance.
“Except for pensioners, those who retired earlier than expected would have had to amass financial assets equal to as much as 10 times their annual income to confidently meet living expenses through at least age 84,” said Fu Tan, co-author of the paper. “In our analysis, that figure would put these high earners in the upper deciles of the wealth distribution.” The study used age 84 as the threshold because it is the average life expectancy of American men and women. (See Notes under the chart for the other assumptions used in the scenario.)