Publications

Early and unplanned retirement

Early retirement refers to the timing of leaving the labor force, but the notion of early is relative, and therefore, there is not one single definition of what constitutes early retirement. One definition of early retirement is economically driven (e.g., earliest age of eligibility for pension plan benefits). The exact age that defines early retirement varies across countries due to differences in public policies. In the United States, early retirement is currently considered prior to age 62, because age 62 is the earliest age of eligibility for Social Security benefits. The second definition is early relative to one's own expectations regarding the timing of retirement. The third definition is based on societal, cultural, or institutional norms. Unplanned retirement refers to a retirement process or decision that was not anticipated. Because retirement has been increasingly conceptualized as a process rather than a discrete event, it has become more challenging to conceptualize early and unplanned retirement. Early and unplanned retirement combines the timing of retirement as well as the extent to which the process of retirement was anticipated.