Millennials may never retire, but they may still be happy

It is increasingly likely that the millennial generation in the US will never retire, as lifespans and the cost of living continue to rise.

Those who reached adulthood during the millennium are concerned that they may have to work for the rest of their lives. Whilst people are living longer, they are not saving enough money during their working lives to sustain themselves when they retire. This situation is particularly true of the millennial generation, who became adults during the Great Recession and who are suffering the resulting financial consequences.

However, the situation may not be entirely negative, as working longer gives people the opportunity to increase their financial stability, creates focus, and could also help to connect people socially.

A study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health suggests that there is a positive correlation between retirement age and mortality, noting that those who retire later in life, could also live longer and suffer fewer ailments. The study concludes that: “Early retirement may be a risk factor for mortality and prolonged working life may provide survival benefits among US adults.” Furthermore, if there are more people working for a longer portion of their lives, they could help to regulate the cost of health care, increase government revenue, and add to the tax base.

Even so, this is only achievable if the nature of work changes—particularly, relationships between younger and older workers within organizations—and age-neutral environments are encouraged. This can be achieved by ensuring workplace features are accessible to workers of all ages—for example, BMW has debuted a pilot project for older workers on assembly lines, altering equipment to ease workers’ physical strain—or by offering life-long skills training to all employees.

In his IZA World of Labor article René Böheim examines the effects of early retirement schemes on youth employment and notes that: “Increasing effective retirement ages and policies to foster employment of older workers are likely to support the employment of both older and younger workers. Policymakers, therefore, need not fear that such pension reforms will create problems for younger workers since, in all likelihood, increasing labor demand for one cohort will lead to more overall employment.”

Carol Graham’s article Late-life work and well-being discusses the challenges of unemployment, aging populations, and public pensions burdens. She writes: “At a time when unemployment, workforce productivity, and health problems related to an aging population present multifaceted challenges, exploring the potential contribution of flexible work arrangements in meeting these challenges is a low-risk and potentially high pay-off proposition.”

Related articles:
The effect of early retirement schemes on youth employment by René Böheim
Late-life work and well-being by Carol Graham
Youth bulges and youth unemployment by David Lam