walter russell mead peter berger lilia shevtsova adam garfinkle andrew a. michta
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Millions Put Off Retirement

We’ve heard over and over again that America is headed for a demographic disaster, with millions of baby boomers about to retire before the younger generation is ready to pay for the generous retirement services they have been promised.

This is still a serious problem, but it may not come as quickly as many fear. Sixty-two percent of middle-aged Americans are planning to delay retirement plans to earn some extra income, a sharp increase from 42 percent only two years ago, says the Wall Street Journal. Faced with low savings, job losses and, in many cases, uncertainty about whether pensions will be paid, nearly two-thirds of older workers are now facing the prospect of working well into their 60s and possibly beyond:

Matt Stern, 51 years old, a former analyst at a Manhattan hedge fund, met with a financial planner in December, days before he was laid off and the fund announced its imminent liquidation. At the meeting, the planner projected that Mr. Stern could retire at age 62. But now, with his assets down 10% to 20% from their 2008 peak, he is looking for a job and retooling his expectations for retirement.

“I might have to prioritize income over whatever calls to me on other levels,” such as travel or being involved in nonprofit organizations, Mr. Stern said.

Millions of people may disagree, but in the long run it is a good thing that Americans are adjusting to new realities by planning to work longer. This will help the economy, help Social Security stay solvent, and help many people lead longer, happier and more productive lives.

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