Work in Retirement: Myths & Motivations

A Merrill Lynch Retirement Study, conducted in partnership with Age Wave

Seventy-two percent of pre-retirees over the age of 50 say their ideal retirement will include working – often in new, more flexible and fulfilling ways. This comprehensive study explores and challenges commonly held beliefs about work during retirement – a phenomenon driven by longer life expectancy, the elimination of most employee pensions, financial need and the reimagining of later life.

"The New Retirement Workscape" revealed through this study is already a modern-day reality for many people – with half of current retirees having worked or planning to work during their retirement years. The study delves into the motivations driving this trend and helps to debunk four myths about working in retirement, including:

  • Retirement means the end of work.
  • Retirement is a time of decline.
  • People primarily work in retirement because they need the money.
  • New career ambitions are for young people.

The research also defines – for the first time – the four types of working retirees, each with distinct priorities, ambitions and reasons behind why they choose to work. Working retirees surveyed share their experiences and lessons learned, offering useful tips to help people prepare for a successful retirement career.

This is the third in a series of studies conducted in partnership with Age Wave to help Merrill Lynch better understand the new retirement realities people are facing across seven life priorities. The study was conducted in March 2014 and is based on a nationally representative survey of more than 7,000 respondents. To learn more about the findings, download the study here.

Age Wave is not affiliated with Bank of America Corporation.


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Work in Retirement: Myths and Motivations – June 2014

Full Report

Press Release

Infographic - The New Retirement Workscape


Matt Card

Bank of America



Sue McCabe

Bank of America



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