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Report: Bye-Bye Retirement


Money can’t buy happiness, ’tis true, but it certainly quiets the nerves – Irish Proverb

With their pensions down and their medical bills up, a growing number of older adults are heading back into the workforce.


Even before the recent market meltdown, Canadians were worried about maintaining their standard of living in retirement. In 2006, Statistics Canada identified reasons for Canadians’ plunging confidence in New Frontiers of Research on Retirement. Among them:

Declining stock prices after the high-tech crash in 2000 that hammered pension funds and undermined the value of retirement savings for individual Canadians.

Canadians are living longer. So their retirement savings must be stretched over a longer period of time.

As a result:

Some Canadians were delaying their retirement. And about one-fifth said they did not intend to retire at all.

Many individuals who took early retirement were heading back to work.

United States

In the United States, people are experiencing the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. And many over 60 are finding that their retirement years may be far from golden.

According to Denis Staunton of the Irish Times:

Three in 10 Americans between 65 and 69 were working or looking for a job in 2007, up from two in 10 in 1982.

The number of workers over 75 has almost doubled to nearly eight per cent.

The proportion of Americans over 65 in the workforce has increased by almost 50 per cent in the past decade to 17 per cent.

Older Americans are heading for community colleges, where the course work is practical and the tuition is well below that of universities. Hot fields for older workers include health care and education. Officials at Senior Employment Centers say older adults who can make do with part-time work are likely to be successful in the current climate.

United Kingdom

Meanwhile, in Britain, the government is targeting retired social workers to plug the gaps and fill shortages. Last March, the Local Government Association (LGA) launched its first campaign to lure 5,000 retired social workers back to work, especially in children’s services.

Response to the campaign was mixed, and some practitioners expressed skepticism. The Association of Directors of Children’s Services welcomed the report. President Atkinson said:

Employers recruiting those who have been out of the profession for a number of years should consider the changes that have taken place in both procedure and practice since the introduction of "Every Child Matters" and ensure returning professionals are aware of their responsibilities within that framework.

Susan Cranie is director of, a website that helps retired social workers make the transition back to work. Cranie told AHB via email: "Retirees need practical assistance: retraining, compliance with professional standards, confidence building and an opportunity to ‘belong’ to a group of like-minded professionals."

The LGA campaign is a step in the right direction, Cranie wrote. The over-50 workers contacting her service are excited about the opportunities. "Many older people have an independence of spirit that enables them to hit the ground running," she added. "They are well placed to take on the really tough cases, where younger, less experienced workers could find themselves intimidated or out of their depth."