Many Americans Try Retirement, Then Change Their Minds

Last week, an Uber driver told me he joined the gig economy less than a year after he retired from his job at DC Metro. He didn’t need the money, but he did want a way to keep his mind occupied. Now he does mostly local drives around the city, but it’s enough to stay alert and busy. And, he’s getting ready to join a gym so his body is as healthy as his mind.
He’s not alone in his quest to keep working after retirement. An article from Paula Span reprinted by Aging Edge, “Many Americans Try Retirement, Then Change Their Minds,” explores another side of the golden years of relaxation – some people find it too relaxing.
Why go back to work? We hear endless warnings about Americans having failed to save enough, and the need for income does motivate some returning workers.
But Ms. Maestas, using longitudinal data from the national Health and Retirement Study, has found that the decision to resume working doesn’t usually stem from unexpected financial problems or health expenses.
“It looks like something people are doing intentionally, instead of an oh-my-God response: ‘I’m running out of money; I have to go back to work,’” she said. “It’s much more about a choice.”
Longer lives, better health and less physically taxing jobs than in previous generations help provide that choice, Ms. Maestas pointed out.
“You hear certain themes: A sense of purpose. Using your brain,” she said. “And another key component is social engagement.” Earning money, while welcomed, rarely proved the primary incentive.

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