Is Working Longer Good for Everyone? Maybe Not, Research Finds

Working longer is a good way to improve your chances of a secure retirement, but is it a realistic option for people across the socioeconomic spectrum?

A study from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, says given rising life expectancies, it is reasonable for lower socioeconomic status workers to work somewhat longer. But, it may be harder for them to work longer, if they face narrower job options than workers with higher socioeconomic status. At the same time, researchers say people are not living longer equally, lower socioeconomic status workers are not making as many gains.

Overall, the results show higher socioeconomic status individuals can work longer than lower socioeconomic people while still maintaining the same fraction of their life retired. At the same time, researchers say lower socioeconomic status workers can stay in the labor force long enough to improve their standard of living in retirement. For example, a man in the lowest quartile can work to age 68 and still maintain the same work-to-retirement ratio as the higher socioeconomic status workers.

Researchers say “it is fair to expect lower socioeconomic status workers to work longer, although not as long as higher socioeconomic workers.” They add since lower socioeconomic status workers have more difficulty extending their careers than higher socioeconomic status workers, policy makers should consider ways to help support their retirement security.