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Work Gap Among Older Americans

Monday, October 2, 2017

College graduates are a big reason for the rising rate of labor force participation among people aged 65 or older, according to an Urban Institute study. Not only are college graduates more likely to be in the labor force than those with less education, but the labor force participation rate of older Americans is rising faster among the college-educated.

Labor force participation rate of people aged 65 or older, 2016

No high school diploma: 10.0%
High school graduate only: 15.3%
Some college/associate's degree: 22.0%
Bachelor's degree or more education: 29.3%

Between 1995 and 2016, the labor force participation rate of people aged 65 or older with a bachelor's degree climbed 7.5 percentage points. This compares with a gain of 5.3 percentage points for those with some college, a 3.8 percentage point gain for those with no more than a high school diploma, and a 2.5 percentage point gain for those without a high school diploma.

“As economic security in old age increasingly depends on delaying retirement, less-educated older adults who retire early will likely face financial challenges in later life and fall further behind their better-educated counterparts,” notes the study.

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