Attitudes about work reflect the growing desire of an aging but healthy population to stay active well into the later years of life. A nationwide survey by the Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends project finds that a majority (54%) of workers ages 65 and older say the main reason they work is that they want to. Just 17% say the main reason is that they need the paycheck. An additional 27% say they’re motivated by a mix of desire and need. When asked to identify specific reasons for working, older workers emphasize psychological and social factors: “to feel useful”, “to give myself something to do”, “to be with other people.” Younger and middle-aged workers are much more inclined to cite classic pocketbook considerations: “to support myself and my family”, “to live independently”, “to qualify for retirement benefits”, “to receive health care benefits.” Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.