Retirement expectations and labour force transitions: the experience of the baby boomer generation

16 Dec 2008

Retirement has traditionally been viewed as a process that involves an abrupt change from working continuously in a full-time job to leaving the labour force completely and remaining permanently retired. Today the pathways to retirement are believed to be much more diverse, with many more people expected make a gradual transition into retirement. These transition (or bridging) jobs may involve a reduction in working hours, a decline in responsibilities, or a move to self employment or casual work. The baby boomers -- men and women born between 1946 and 1965 -- are now approaching retirement age, and very little is known about the retirement intentions of this group. This reflects both the fact that older baby boomers are only now beginning to approach retirement age, and the general lack of data about retirement intentions of Australian men and women in this age group.

This paper examines the retirement intentions and labour force participation patterns of Australian baby boomers. It has two main specific objectives. First, to describe the retirement intentions of baby boomers: how many are already in a transition job; how many intend to retire gradually; and how long they intend to spend in this transition phase. Second, to identify the main patterns of labour force participation of baby boomers over the seven year period spanning 2000 to 2006, and the main factors that influence the most common patterns of labour supply observed over this period.

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