For the past couple of months at her Speechwriter-Ghostwriter blog Jane Genova has been repeating a claim (as in one of her June 22nd posts) that:
“…the Federal Reserve Board found that one-third of retirees bounce back into the workforce. There’s even a term coined for that: reverse retirement.”
She also repeated it on page 9 of her ebook, Outwitting Ageism to Land, Hold, and Move on to Better Work. But she didn’t link to an article from the Federal Reserve Board, and perhaps never ever even bothered to read it. Instead she just linked to another article about it at New Retirement from October 17, 2017 titled Reverse Retirement: find out why so many retirees are going back to work. The original 2016 article by Lindsay Jacobs and Suphanit Piyapromdee is titled Labor Force Transitions at Older Ages: Burnout, Recovery, and Reverse Retirement and it is Finance and Discussion Series 2016-053. The very first sentence says:
“Over one-third of men who identify themselves as retired later re-enter the labor force.”
Are men meant in the narrow sense (males) or the broader sense (females and males)? When we look at Section 3 we find it says the former:
“The data we use come from the Health and Retirement Study panel of men and women in the U.S. age 50 and older. There are 10 biennial waves available, with the survey years beginning in 1992 with the most recent available being from 2010. We include males from the HRS Cohort, born 1931-1941 who were observed for at least five waves and worked during at least one. This gives us a total of 3,241 respondents.”
So women (over half of the population) weren’t even included, and the only data after the Great Recession are from 2008 and 2010! On August 7th Jane had whined about the one-third fraction that:
“I find that a low number for retirees returning to work. I have a hunch the percentage is higher.”
Why were women left out? There are significant gender effects that would complicate model building. Data for married men and women are shown above, taken from another more recent publication - Nicole Maestas’s Working Paper #24449 (March 2018) from the National Bureau of Economic Research titled The Return to Work and Women’s Employment Decisions. (For simplicity I have just compared one set of data). At age 55 70% of men were working, compared with just less than 50% of women.
For us men, the detailed data from the Federal Reserve Board still are very interesting, and graphics do a much better job of explanation than mere words. Figure 1 shows the fraction of men working full or part time versus age. At 56 80% are working full time, at 62 50% are, and at 68 just 20% are.
The bottom graph from Figure 2 shows the percentages making transitions from not working to either working part-time or full-time. While Table 1 had said that the percent ever reverse retiring was 35.5%, the graph shows there is a large drop off as age increases.
Every couple of days I take a look at Speaking Pro Central, which has articles about public speaking, PowerPoint, etc. Today Jane has one of the eight Trending Articles shown, but 24 of the 29 More Trending articles. She cranks out so much stuff it’s hardly surprising that much of it is not carefully researched. Caveat emptor!
The ‘retired’ version of Grant Wood’s painting American Gothic was modified from one at Wikimedia Commons.