Ageing baby boomers in Australia: evidence informing actions for better retirement.
Abstract: The first Australian baby boomers are staging to retire. Consequently, it is essential to develop and apply a strong evidence base to facilitate their successful retirement and ongoin9 wellbeing. This review focuses on recent literature on pre-retirement baby boomers to identify available research findings and gaps to be filled on retirement preparation. A notable shortage of empirical literature was found on pathways to retirement and financial plans. A trend emerged towards an intention to retire at an older age, and the main source of retirement income was expected to be superannuation. Over half of Australian boomers expect their savings to be sufficient; however, 30-50% anticipate a decline in their standard of living. The majority want the responsibility for funding retirement shared between the individual, government and employers. Further research is needed on the varying plans and expectations of men and women, of low-skilled workers, and those from culturally diverse backgrounds.

Keywords: retirement, baby boomers, plans
Article Type: Report
Subject: Personal finance (Management)
Retirement income (Management)
Baby boom generation (Finance)
Retirement planning (Methods)
Banking industry (Baby boom generation market)
Authors: Humpel, Nancy
O'Loughlin, Kate
Wells, Yvonne
Kendig, Hal
Pub Date: 06/22/2009
Publication: Name: Australian Journal of Social Issues Publisher: Australian Council of Social Service Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Sociology and social work Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2009 Australian Council of Social Service ISSN: 0157-6321
Issue: Date: Summer, 2009 Source Volume: 44 Source Issue: 4
Topic: Event Code: 200 Management dynamics; 250 Financial management; 240 Marketing procedures Advertising Code: 80 Targets & Markets Computer Subject: Banking industry; Company business management; Company financing
Product: Product Code: 8829000 Consumer Assets & Liabilities; 9915800 Personal Financial Mgmt NAICS Code: 81411 Private Households SIC Code: 6021 National commercial banks; 6022 State commercial banks; 6029 Commercial banks, not elsewhere classified
Geographic: Geographic Scope: Australia Geographic Code: 8AUST Australia
Accession Number: 222487685
Full Text: Introduction

Australia's future will be shaped heavily by the emergence of the baby boom cohort in later life and by how well they are able to manage their transitions into and through retirement. The front end of this massive cohort--the 5.5 million people born between 1946 and 1965 (Productivity Commission 2005) --reached 60 years of age in 2006 and their ranks in retirement will increase sharply over the next two decades. Demographic ageing will accelerate, as life expectancy at age 64 years is expected to increase further from the present 18.9 years for men and 22.2 years for women (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2008). These trends in living longer lead to, for example, population projections that the proportion of people aged 65 years and over will increase from 13.2% in 2007, to approximately 18.6% in 2027 and 24.6% in 2057 (around one in every four Australians; Australian Bureau of Statistics 2008a).

At the same time, older Australians are becoming more diverse, both economically and culturally. Although many retirees in the future will have higher levels of income and wealth than previous generations enabling them to leverage services, significant numbers of retirees will continue to rely on the Age pension. In addition, in coming decades, post-war immigrants from non-English-speaking European countries will become a more significant proportion of the very old (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2007).

The Australian Treasurer's Intergenerational Reports (Treasurer 2002, 2007) and a report to Australia's Future Forum (Kendig et al. 2004) underscore how population ageing has major implications for public policy and all areas of society. With retirement looming for the first of the baby boomers, it is essential to build an evidence base to identify issues and inform actions that can maximise baby boomers' opportunities for a successful retirement and ongoing wellbeing into later life.

The current review summarises and interprets recent evidence that builds on earlier Australian reviews and covers the period 2005-2008. Jackson and colleagues (2006) reviewed Australian and international literature on retirement intentions (1997 to 2005) and, in particular, on ways of delaying retirement and extending participation in the work force. Focusing on the timing of retirement, they found an 'elasticity' of approximately six years around intended retirement age where timing could be revised, and also listed factors that can disrupt retirement intentions. The review documented a need for more information on women's retirement intentions. Quine and Carter (2006) completed a broader review of Australian literature on boomers' expectations and plans for retirement published between 1996 and 2005. They reported having found more commentary and speculation than empirical evidence on Australian boomers' health, care needs, housing, employment and income. These earlier reviews identified a lack of evidence on boomers' attitudes and/or plans for their financial future and their opinions on where the responsibility lies for funding their retirement.

Recent changes in retirement patterns and policies (e.g., the 2006-2007 budget changes to superannuation) provide a rationale for this review of the contributions and gaps in the Australian literature on retirement. It considers timing and pathways of retirement, financial planning and expectations for retirement income, and boomers' views on private and public responsibility for funding retirement. The most notable of the recent additions to the Australian knowledge base has emerged from the national Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey (see hilda/).


Searches included Australian literature published in Australia or internationally between January 2005 and December 2008, and excluded research on other countries. Sources included databases of peer-reviewed literature including OVID (Ageline, Medline, Cinahl, PsycInfo), Informit (APAIS-health, health & society), Scopus, and Science Direct. Searches were conducted for online research discussion papers and reports, industry-generated research reports, and Australian Bureau of Statistics and other Australian government websites. Reference lists from identified peer-reviewed articles were also used to source relevant literature. Articles that addressed issues from the perspective of boomers who had already retired were excluded. Articles published prior to 2005 were included if they had not been published in the two earlier reviews. To identify changes since the earlier reviews we used similar key word search terms, including baby boom *, middle age *, ageing, aging, expect *, lifespan, life change events, attitude *, intent *, expect *, timing, pathway *, prepare *, strateg *, experience *. Not all studies reported here limited participants to people in the baby boomer cohort. Table 1 gives details on all articles and reports included in this review.


Timing of retirement

Reasons for retirement and the expected ages of retirement have important policy implications in a climate of increasing pressure for older employees to remain at work. In 2006-2007, the average age at retirement was 58 years for men and 48 years for women. Of those currently retired, 27% retired before the age 55 years, 53% retired between 55 and 64 years and 20% retired at 65 years or older (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2008b). The gap between the numbers of baby boomer men and women in the workforce was found to be closing, mainly among those aged 55-59 years and unmarried (Kelly & Harding 2007). Despite these trends in the employment of boomers, in the age group 55 to 59 years, 40% of women, 20% of married men, and 40% of unmarried men had already retired (Kelly & Harding 2007).

Studies that explored both the age at which respondents would like to retire, and the age they expected to retire (Table 2), generally reported that people expect to retire later than they would prefer (a four to five year difference; AXA 2008; McAllister et al. 2005; Shacklock & Brunetto 2005; Warner-Smith et al. 2006; Warren 2006). Cobb-Clark and Stillman (2006) focused on men aged 45-55 years and women aged 45-50 years from the HILDA data and found 60% expected to retire later than they would like to. The expected age of retirement in this age group increased by about 1.5 years in the interval between the 2001 and 2003 HILDA surveys. Millward and Brooke (2007) reported that 54% of boomers aged 50-64 years thought there was no ideal age for compulsory retirement, while the balance thought the average best age for compulsory retirement was 57 years for women and 62 years for men. Another study found 55% of workers were likely or very likely to consider remaining in the workforce beyond their expected retirement age, and 44% were considering working past 65 years (Walter et al. 2008). An AARP survey (2005) across ten developed countries found people in Australia, Canada and France planned to retire the earliest.

Interestingly, two quantitative studies on highly skilled or educated workers (Bidewell et al. 2006; Onyx & Baker 2006) reported preferred and expected retirement ages similar to those found in other studies of less skilled workers. This is contrary to the findings of two qualitative studies (Hamilton & Hamilton 2006b; Quine et al. 2006), which found that people from higher socioeconomic status (SES) groups expect to cut back on work or retire earlier than those from lower SES groups, who anticipate that they will be forced to have to work longer for financial reasons. Overall, people appear to adjust their planned ages of retirement as they approach the retirement-age years and experience different 'push' and 'pull' factors (Ranzijn et al. 2004).

The retirement intentions of staff at a university are strikingly different from those of other groups (Shacklock 2006). General staff want to stop working much earlier than academic staff do, and some academics want never to retire. A lack of work place flexibility experienced by general staff, such as the limited availability of variable hours and part-time jobs, influences their desire to retire as soon as they are financially able. The importance of flexibility in work arrangements has emerged as being essential to retain older workers longer in the labour force in other occupations and industries (Shacklock 2006; Shacklock & Brunetto 2005; Walter et al. 2008).

The proportion of boomers who do not know when they prefer or expect to retire is surprisingly high, ranging from approximately 25% (McAllister et al. 2005; Warner-Smith et al. 2006) to 40% of workers aged 45 years and over (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2008b). It is unclear whether some boomers have not yet considered retirement, or whether other issues have influenced responses to this question. Most studies have reported that health and physical ability are central considerations in deciding when to retire completely. Health is a very important factor in the decision for 59.2% of all men and 63.9% of all women (Warren 2006). Other important considerations include financial security (55.1% of men, 60.4 % of women), the need to care for a spouse/family member (53.8% of men, 49.3% of women), the ability to access superannuation funds, the number of financial dependents and the desire for a different lifestyle (Warren 2006).

Several studies reviewed here included participants aged in their twenties and thirties as well as those in the baby boomer cohort (AXA 2008; Delpachitra & Beal 2002; Shacklock & Brunetto 2005). Webber and Smith's study (2005) found the age a person would like to retire is five years lower in a younger age group (20-30 years) than in older age groups. Participants' current age appears to influence their intended retirement age. This could limit the ability of these studies to generalise findings to those closer in age to retirement. Any future survey of retirement timing intentions should particularly focus on age groups closest to retirement.

Information on planned retirement age is necessary for political and economic planning. Recent research described here highlights the fact that many baby boomers have quite flexible plans for retirement, and are able to shift their expectations in response to current economic conditions and work opportunities. The sheer numbers of baby boomers in Australia and the threat of large numbers of retirements in some industries (such as nursing, teaching and tertiary education; Hugo 2005; O'Brien-Pallas et al. 2004; Preston 2000) represent a challenging shift in workplace conditions. Numerous reports (e.g., Australian Bureau of Statistics 2008c) provide evidence of an increasing demand for flexible work opportunities to meet the needs of mature age workers. The next section of this review examines the issue of pathways from work to retirement.

Expected pathway to boomers' retirement

A major decision when approaching retirement age is which pathway to take: that is, to cease paid work completely and abruptly or to move gradually into retirement. Phased or partial retirement describes the process of shifting, over an extended period of time, from a relatively permanent pattern of full-time paid work to a job with fewer hours or a different level of responsibility (Borland 2005; Thomson 2007). The Australian government has been re-shaping retirement income policies to meet the challenges of the ageing population and potential shortages of skilled labour by trying to encourage boomers to remain in the workforce and choose the phased model of retirement (Walter et al. 2008). A comprehensive review of policy raises major questions as to whether the introduction by the Australian Government in 2006 of new superannuation taxation and pension policies will have the intended effect of retaining baby boomers in the workforce longer (Warren 2008a).

Few peer-reviewed articles were found on boomers' expectations about the pathway to retirement. Partial retirement was a common phase among older workers prior to leaving the labour force (Thomson 2007), particularly among self-employed men (Warren 2006). In HILDA (2003), 20% of workers aged 45 years and over indicated their job was part of a transition to full retirement (Headey & Warren 2007). This proportion rose sharply from 10-15% of workers aged 45-54 years to over 50% for workers aged 65 and over. The HILDA surveys (2001-2004) found that, of those who had left full-time employment within the previous three years, 54% of women and 38% of men had shifted to partial retirement. Further HILDA analyses followed baby boomers from 2001-2006 and found the main predictors of pathway to retirement were health, education, work experience, age, and partner's employment status (Warren 2008b). The accumulation of more HILDA findings will eventually provide increased knowledge on Australian workers' patterns of a phased or abrupt retirement. A limitation of most existing studies is that inferences on transition to retirement have been drawn based on workers' retrospective accounts of the pathway they chose (Borland 2005). We have yet to accumulate prospective research for baby boomers' retirement transitions parallel to those on earlier cohorts from the Healthy Retirement Project (de Vaus et al. 2007; Quine et al. 2007). That research showed that choice is more important than pathway as an influence on health and well being outcomes in retirement.

The Australian Survey of Retirement Attitudes and Motivations (ASRAM) recruited a nationally representative sample of 40-59 year olds in 2006. In addition to two peer-reviewed articles (Jackson et al. 2006; Walter et al. 2008), further results are available on the ASRAM website ( Eighty percent of boomers' prefer a phased pathway to retirement (Walter & Jackson 2007), and most prefer to stay in their current employment or similar work during this phase. High income and skilled workers are the least likely group to want to stop work completely. An important finding for policy is that those who are willing to remain working longer are also more likely to prefer phased retirement (Table 3). Boomers are optimistic about being able to phase in retirement; however, only 9% have talked with their employer about retirement options (Walter & Jackson 2007). Onyx and Baker (2006) also found a preference for phased retirement, where paid work could play an important but reduced role and demand less time and energy. These findings are supported by a study by Millwood and Brooke (2007), which found that boomers prefer to retire gradually.

The availability of work place flexibility and the capacity for workers to shift between jobs at older ages may affect workers' ability to even consider the phased pathway to retirement (Schofield & Beard 2005; Shacklock 2006; Shacklock & Brunetto 2005). Two important factors in enabling boomers to take a phased pathway to retirement are current job satisfaction and growth in part-time positions (Hartlapp & Schmid 2008). Age discrimination and myths about older workers' employability, productivity and learning capacities also influence their ability to choose a phased pathway (Kossen & Pedersen 2008). Organizational downsizing and restructuring can result in retrenchment for this age group, forcing a sudden change to plans. The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health found that family care obligations also restrict choice over retirement timing and pathways (Berecki-Gisolf et al. 2008).

Some information on gender differences in pathways to retirement is available (Headey & Warren 2007; Warren 2006) but more research is needed, given the major differences between men's and women's experiences. A model of three main retirement pathways for women emerged from an Australian study by Everingham and colleagues (Everingham et al. 2007): the gateway (an abrupt end to paid employment); the transitional pathway (cease paid employment gradually); and the transformative pathway (committed to continuing paid work and building another flexible working life). The transitional pathway was the most common pathway. Of particular interest are studies that further trial this model for women (Everingham et al. 2007).

Future research should inquire about boomers' expectations and plans for taking the abrupt or phased pathway to full retirement. Which people plan for a particular path? How do they prepare? The HILDA surveys have followed boomers who are now in transition or recently retired, but few studies have asked about their preferences while still working. There is also a need for knowledge on any differences in plans by geographical location and hence different local employment and housing markets. Are those who live in regional, rural or remote areas less likely to be able to access a phased retirement pathway?

Financial planning and expectations for retirement income

The Australian retirement income system consists of three 'pillars': a means-tested publicly funded Age pension; compulsory saving through an occupational superannuation scheme; and voluntary savings (Warren & Oguzoglu 2007). Recent policy changes have shifted the emphasis from the Age pension to compulsory occupational superannuation and personal savings. A 'fourth pillar' to Australia's retirement system could be emerging; that of delayed or no retirement (Borowski 2008).

Government, organisation and industry surveys have found the main expected source of income in retirement to be superannuation or annuity. A recent study of people aged over 45 years and still working found this is so for 57% of men and 39% of women (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2008b). Among Australians aged 30-65 years in the AARP (2005) international survey, 43% reported that the first expected main source is superannuation or annuities, and the second expected source is other personal savings/investment (34%). The third source of expected retirement income is a government pension or allowance; for 20% of respondents in both the ABS study and Australian results from the AARP study (AARP 2005; Australian Bureau of Statistics 2008b) and for 12% of those aged 45-59 years in the Hamilton and Hamilton study (2006a).

The AXA Retirement Scope Study (AXA 2008) found that 59% of workers aged 25 years and older (and 42% of those aged 45-64 years) expected their total retirement savings to be sufficient. Similarly, the HILDA 2003 survey of those aged 45 and over (McAllister et al., 2005) found that 59% expected their retirement savings to be sufficient. However, in contrast, 60% of participants in the Australian Pensioners Insurance Agency study (APIA; 2007) indicated their savings were not enough. When asked about standard of living, 36% in the AXA study and 31% in HILDA expected their standard of living to decline (AXA 2008; McAllister et al. 2005). It appears there is widespread uncertainty around the sufficiency of expected retirement income.

To date, few peer-reviewed studies have examined in detail how Australians plan financially for their retirement. A few qualitative studies have explored the issue (Hunter et al. 2007; Quine et al. 2006). Strategies mentioned by boomers include buying an investment property, and spending most of their money during retirement, although some worry about not leaving an inheritance for their children (Hunter et al. 2007). Some believe having enough money for retirement is essential for quality of life, while others think that they should be able to adjust their lifestyle to suit their circumstances (Quine et al. 2006).

Hamilton and Hamilton (2006a) found that people in lower income groups expressed high levels of anxiety about their financial security and being able to live comfortably in retirement. Participants disagreed on how much annual income would be needed, ranging from $40,000-$60,000 (those with high income) to $30,000-$35,000 (those with low income). Few participants, including low income earners, anticipated relying solely on the Age pension, although some said they would be eligible for a part pension.

Superannuation finances the retirement of 22% of those who are currently retired, whereas among those not yet retired, the percentage expecting to live from superannuation savings is approximately double that figure (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2008b). Whether superannuation savings will be enough to fulfil these hopes remains to be seen. The Age pension will remain a significant source of income in retirement, especially for women. Gender biases appear to occur in current retirement policy (due to a shorter work period for women) and more women than men are dependent on the Age pension (Jefferson 2005). Projections show a gender gap in duration of employment of about 14 years (i.e., around 35% less time in the workforce) over the working life (Jefferson & Preston 2005), and the gap in accumulation of superannuation will be similar. The known links between income and ability to save imply that improvements to women's earnings, from higher wages or from the increase in numbers of women working longer, can be expected to result in increased savings (Jefferson & Preston 2005).

The AARP international survey (of working people aged 30-65 years) studied the extent to which respondents felt informed about what is needed for a successful retirement. For Australians, the average score was 5.8 on a 10 point scale. The highest score of 6.5 was obtained for respondents from the USA and the lowest was 5.0 for those from France and Japan (AARP 2005). The survey report concluded that governments and other stakeholders will have to make a genuine effort to promote greater understanding of retirement security issues. Relatively low scores on feeling informed about these issues demonstrate a need for awareness-raising campaigns and education, not only regarding financial planning, but also about social and psychological adjustment issues in retirement life (see Table 3 for our review's main findings).

Whose responsibility is it to fund retirement?

Baby boomers are being encouraged by the government to work longer than the previous generation to enable financial independence in retirement and maintain the size of the workforce (Warren 2008b). But do boomers agree that they should support themselves, or do they think the government should support them with a pension, or at least a part pension, to 'top up' compulsory savings?

Forty-four percent of Australians aged 30-65 years believe the individual has primary responsibility for funding their retirement, and 50% say the individual has some responsibility (AARP 2005). In contrast, 25% say the government has primary responsibility and 71% say it has some responsibility. Employer-based programs were nominated as having primary responsibility by only 10% of respondents, but 66% say employers should bear some responsibility. These findings are supported by the AXA Retirement Scope Study (AXA 2008), which similarly asked working Australians who should be responsible for providing retirement income. Eighty-seven percent of participants nominated the individual as primarily responsible, 75% the government, and 44% the employer. These findings are also supported by Millward and Brooke (2007); 25% of respondents aged 50 to 64 years stated that everyone should be entitled to the full government Age pension, with 53 % stating that everyone should receive at least some income from the Age pension. The HILDA (2003) survey did not ask participants (aged 45 and older) about responsibility for funding future retirees, but the data suggest that approximately 68% of men and 55% of women expect their retirement to be self-funded. Only 29% of men and 38% women expect the government pension to fund them. Participants may be indicating that they would commence retirement as self-funded retirees, but gradually draw down their wealth and become eligible for the Age pension (McAllister et al. 2005).

Qualitative studies (Hamilton & Hamilton 2006b; Quine et al. 2006) of baby boomers have reported that many high SES participants are planning and taking responsibility for their future, but many low SES participants are concerned that they may have insufficient funds to do so. Boomers in all groups claim that the government has to take some responsibility, as compulsory superannuation has not been implemented long enough for their generation to save sufficient funds. Some respondents have argued that even self-funded retirees should be eligible for the Age pension. Hamilton and Hamilton (2006b) reported that participants 'had a strong sense that they were owed something by government because baby boomers had "missed out on super". The participants believed that they had been "caught in the middle", whereby they had not had the opportunity to accumulate enough super to self-fund in retirement' (p. 11). All participants agreed that the government has a responsibility to continue to provide an Age pension. Overall, the general consensus in the Australian literature is that the government, individuals, and employers have a shared responsibility towards funding retirement incomes in the future.


This review has identified a substantial increase since 2005 in our knowledge of baby boomers' retirement plans and expectations. The review builds on Jackson et al.'s (2006) work by updating knowledge on boomers' expectations about the timing of retirement. Gains in knowledge are expanded with this review's focus on pathways to retirement, financial planning and expectations for retirement income, and views on responsibility for funding retirement. Important findings include that up to 40% of boomers do not know when they would like to or expect to retire. There is a gender gap in superannuation savings with women lagging behind men, and the majority of boomers expect their main source of income to be superannuation or annuity even though their superannuation savings may not be sufficient to allow this.

The HILDA, ASRAM, and ABS surveys are providing new national data, but other studies have recruited relatively small samples, thus limiting their ability to generalise to the majority of boomers. Very little has been published so far on boomers' anticipated pathways to retirement (sudden or gradual), the financial aspects of their retirement planning, or their plans for retirement lifestyles (Table 3). Most published studies did not differentiate expectations or planning by gender, SES, or occupational status. In particular, for retirement income the findings to date focus on individuals and overlook the fact that for most people, retirement income is based on couples. Despite increasing diversity in the population of older people, very little is known about the retirement plans and expectations of workers in low-skilled occupations, and issues for people from linguistic and culturally diverse (CALD) backgrounds are entirely neglected. Attention to these groups would be consistent with new Australian government policy directions promoting social inclusion. Also very little is known about factors that might encourage mature age workers to remain in the workforce longer. To date, only one study has examined this issue (Walter et al. 2008).

The shortcomings of existing knowledge on baby boomers limit our capacity to develop appropriate policy responses and only serve to reinforce stereotypes and unwarranted generalisations about this generation. Until more results from longitudinal studies such as HILDA are published we will have to rely on studies of earlier cohorts for understanding the influences on, and effects of, retirement transitions and processes for the boomers who have had different life experiences from those of their predecessors. In addition, with the massive economic and financial crisis of 2007 and beyond, we need new evidence from 2009 onwards on the ways in which baby boomers may be changing their views and plans in the light of recent economic and policy developments.


This research was supported by an Australian Research Council Linkage grant scheme (Grant No. LP0882748). Title: Ageing Baby Boomers in Australia: Informing Better Actions for Retirement. The Linkages Partners are National Seniors Association and the US AARP.


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Walter, M., Jackson, N., & Felmingham, B. (2008) 'Keeping Australia's baby boomers in the labour force. A policy perspective', Australian Journal of Social Issues, 43 (No.2 Winter).

Warner-Smith, P., Everingham, C., & Ford, J. (2006) 'Mid-age women's experiences of work and expectations of retirement', Just Policy, 40, 45-53.

Warren, D. (2006) Aspects of retirement for older women: Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research.

Warren, D. (2008a) Australia's retirement income system: Historical developments and effects of recent reforms. Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research. Working Paper Series No. 23/08.

Warren, D. (2008b) Retirement expectations and labour force transitions: The experiences of the baby boomer generation: Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research. Working Paper Series No. 24/08.

Warren, D., & Oguzoglu, U. (2007) Retirement in Australia: A Closer Look at the Financial Incentives: Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research. Working Paper Series No. 24/07.

Webber, L., & Smith, K. (2005) 'The value of work in younger and older adults' lives: An Australian perspective', International Congress Series, 1280, 415-420.
Table 1. Australian peer reviewed articles and government,
industry and research reports

Authors                 Sample                  Main purpose

Peer reviewed articles

Delpachitra & Beal,     Mailed survey to 3      To examine factors
2002 (2001)             suburbs of              influencing the
                        Queensland (near        decisions to retire
                        Brisbane, Ipswich,      including when
                        and Toowoomba)          people plan to
                        n = 313 non retired;    retire, and the
                        184 retired Mean age    reasons. Trialled to
                        46y                     use of the locus of
                                                control construct

Jefferson & Preston,    Baby boomer women.      Projected employment
2005 (various)          Data drawn from         patterns and
                        other sources           superannuation

Schofield &             Data drawn from 4       Age distribution,
Beard, 2005             ABS census studies.     attrition rates,
(1986-2001)             Trends in work          hours worked by age
                        practices of GPs,       group
                        specialists and

Shacklock &             Emailed survey to       Which
Brunetto, 2005          employees of 2          characteristics of
(not reported)          public sector           workers can affect
                        organisations. n =      how they perceive
                        97, aged 21-60y         recognised
                        (77.6% aged >41y).      retirement factors
                        Included qualitative    in the decision to
                        open-ended questions    retire

Webber &                Participants known      Used Levinson's
Smith, 2005             to researchers and      theory of
(not reported)          snowballing             development changes
                        technique. Survey       in work-related
                        n = 162 (40.5%          values across
                        response rate) Mixed    lifespan and utility
                        SES 44% aged 20-30y;    theory to examine
                        56% aged 50-60y         job satisfaction,
                                                commitment to work,
                                                and views on early

Bidewell                Highly educated         The influence of
et al., 2006            sample employed by 1    delay and
(not reported)          large public service    anticipated health
                        organisation and 2      and enjoyment, on
                        private financial       amount of retirement
                        institutions. Survey    savings sacrificed
                        n = 102. Mean age       for early retirement

Quine et al., 2006      12 focus groups in      Explore expectations
(2004)                  NSW (8 urban, 4         and plans for
                        rural) Mixed SES        retirement among
                                                first wave of

Onyx &                  Highly educated         Examine retirement
Baker, 2006             members of 1            expectations,
(not reported)          superannuation fund     reasons for
                        with a range of         retirement,
                        professions and         financial planning
                        attending a             and planned
                        retirement seminar.     retirement
                        Survey n = 205. Mean    activities
                        age 56.4y

Shacklock, 2006         Interviews with 15      To explore the
(not reported)          academic and 15         meaning of working
                        general university      for older workers
                        staff aged >50y         and how this meaning
                        Mixed SES               influences
                                                intentions to
                                                continue working

Warner-Smith            ALSWH pilot survey      Women's intentions
et al., 2006            of women from a         and expectations of
-2004                   small area. Mixed       retirement
                        SES n = 130 aged

Everingham              ALSWH data. Women       The aim was to
et al., 2007            aged 53-58 and          generate theory by
(2004)                  65-70 in 2004. 48       identifying
                        interviews and 11       similarities and
                        focus groups            differences in life
                                                experience and self
                                                understanding in
                                                diverse groups of
                                                women facing

Hunter et al., 2007     5 focus groups and      Investigated the
(not reported)          12 interviews.          retirement plans and
                        Recruited through       expectations of
                        snowballing             boomers in relation
                        technique. Aged         to health and
                        41-70y                  nutrition using an
                                                ecological framework

Walter et al, 2008      ASRAM study.            The aim was to
                        National                assess the extent to
                        representative          which older workers'
                        survey n = 2501         retirement
                        aged 40-59y             intentions and
                                                motivations are in
                                                line with government
                                                retirement policy

Book Chapter

Millwood & Brooke       National survey N =     The Australian
2007 (2005)             3902 Results            Survey of Social
                        reported here for       Attitudes (AuSSA) is
                        age group 50-64 yrs.    a biennial survey
                        N = unknown             which provides
                                                authoritative data
                                                on the social
                                                attitudes and
                                                behaviour of

Govt reports

ABS Retirement &        2006-2007 MPHS and      The aim of the this
Retirement              Labour Force survey     topic was to provide
Intentions, 2008        Aged 45+y               information on
(2007)                                          retirement trends,
                                                the factors which
                                                influence decisions
                                                to retire, and the
                                                income arrangements
                                                that retirees and
                                                potential retirees
                                                have made to provide
                                                for their retirement

Industry/ organisation reports

AARP, 2005              International survey    The goal of this
International           n = 400 each across     international survey
Retirement Survey       10 countries            was to understand
(2005)                  Australians aged        the attitudes and
                        30-65y                  behaviours
                                                retirement issues as
                                                well as confidence
                                                among current and
                                                future retirees
                                                about their own

AMP.NATSEM Income &     Mainly ABS data         Update on previous
Wealth Report, Kelly                            reports on the baby
& Harding, 2007                                 boomers approaching
(2007)                                          retirement

Australian              National survey,        To gather opinions
Pensioners Insurance    n = 2,564 aged          on the following
Agency, 2007 (2007)     50-75y                  topics: Society;
                                                General Wellbeing;
                                                Family; Health;
                                                Education and
                                                Learning; Work and
                                                Retirement; Finance;
                                                Recreation Club
                                                Security and Safety

AXA Retirement          Survey n = 309          To explore attitudes
Scope, 2008             workers aged 25-69y     to retirement;
(2008)                  (42% 45-64years)        compare perceptions
                        n = 319 retired         and reality (workers
                                                vs retired); compare
                                                Australian views
                                                with international

Research Reports

McAllister et al.,      HILDA survey            Examines aspirations
2005 (2003)             n = approx 2,500        and expectations of
                        workers 45+y            pre retirement
                        Mean age 52y            cohort (timing,
                                                financial, workforce
                                                outcomes for
                                                existing post
                                                retirement cohort

Cobb-Clark &            HILDA survey Aged       Examine plans for
Stillman, 2006          45-55y                  the timing of
(2001-2003)                                     retirement (expected
                                                and actual)

Hamilton & Hamilton,    Focus groups in         Focus groups--to
2006                    Sydney, Bathurst,       gauge the feelings
(2006)                  Parramatta, Brisbane    and attitudes of
                        Aged 45-60y National    baby boomers towards
                        survey n = 829 aged     a range of issues
                        45-59y (n = 627         associated with
                        employed)               retirement and
                                                retirement incomes.

                                                Survey -to examine
                                                how widespread the
                                                attitudes and
                                                experiences of focus
                                                group participants

Warren, 2006            HILDA survey            Examine factors
(2003)                  Workers >45y            affecting women
                        (n = 2502) Gender       about to retire.
                        differences             Understand the
                                                differences in
                                                reasons for, and
                                                process of,
                                                retirement for men
                                                and women

Headey & Warren,        HILDA survey            The second Annual
2007 (2001-2004)        Workers >45y            Statistical Report
                        (Transition to          of the HILDA survey.
                        retirement section)     Reports on the 4
                                                main areas:
                                                households and
                                                family life;
                                                incomes; employment;
                                                life satisfaction,
                                                health and

Walter & Jackson,       National                To examine boomer
2007 (2006)             representative          retirement process
                        survey n = 2501         preferences (timing,
                        aged 40-59y             transition)

Warren & Oguzoglu,      HILDA survey. Aged      To identify if any
2007 (2001-2005)        55-70y Restricted to    financial incentives
                        those employed when     to retire early are
                        HILDA began in 2001     present in the
                                                retirement income

Warren, 2008            HILDA survey. Age       To describe the
(2001-2006)             restricted to those     retirement
                        aged 45-57y in 2003     intentions of baby
                        n = 2352                boomers and to
                                                identify the main
                                                patterns of labour
                                                force. Followed baby
                                                boomers from

(Year)--year of data collection

Table 2. Preferred and expected timing of retirement

Study                   Age would like          Age intend/expect
                        to retire               to retire

Delpachitra & Beal,     61% -55-60y; 27% -
2002                    60-65y 88% not
                        beyond 65y

Webber & Smith,         Younger group -57y
2005                    Older group- 62y

Shacklock &                                     Approx 60% [less
Brunetto, 2005                                  than or equal to]
                                                60y 56-60y- 34.7%;
                                                60-65y- 36.7%

McAllister et al.,      HILDA survey            M=63y
2005                    46% - <60y              18% - <60y; 47% -
                        70% - <65y              <65y 1 in 24 before
                                                like to; 40% at
                                                preferred age; those
                                                later than like to-
                                                50% within 5 years

McAllister et al.,      Living in Australia
2005                    survey DK = 24.3%;
                        Majority = 61-65y
                        By 60ys -34% of men
                        and 41% of women

AARP, 2005                                      9%- 50-54y; 21% -
                                                55-59y; 27%- 60-64y;
                                                20%- 65-69y; 5%-70+

Bidewell et al.,        Youngest age M = 58y
2006                    Oldest age M = 62.5y

Onyx & Baker, 2006                              Mean age 58.7y; 23%
                                                by 55y; 36% by 65y

Cobb-Clark &                                    30% when like to
Stillman, 2006                                  60% later than like
                                                to 5% earlier than
                                                like to

Warren, 2006            45-54y partnered        DK = 7.9% men;
                        women = 56y 45-54y      11.9% women 45-54y
                        single men = 58y        partnered women =
                        55-59y partnered        59y 45-54y single
                        women = 61y, 55-59y     men = 63y 55-59y
                        single men = 62y All    partnered women =
                        45+ = 59-60y            63y, 55-59y single
                                                men = 65y All 45+ =

Warner-Smith et al.,    DK = 25%                DK = 30%
2006                    28% before 60y

Millward & Brooke,      Best age to
2007                    compulsorily retire
                        For men -62y; For

ABS, 2008                                       DK = 40%; Mean = 63y
                                                16%- 55-59y; 33%-
                                                60-64y; 38% 65-69y;

AXA, 2008               Ideal age 57y           62Y

ABS-Australian Bureau of Statistics

DK--Don't know

Table 3. Key findings of the review

Topic                  Findings               Gaps in knowledge/
                                              research needs

Preferred and          Trend towards an       Is this trend
expected timing of     intention to retire    towards an older
retirement             at an older age than   retirement age
                       the previous           temporary?
                       generation did
                                              What influences the
                       The age they expect    disparity between
                       to retire is older     intended and actual
                       than the age they      retirement age?
                       would like to retire   Future participants
                       25% to 40% do not      need to be nearer to
                       know when they would   the age group
                       like to or expect to   closest to
                       retire Current age     retirement
                       influences preferred
                       and expected timing

Expected pathway to    Those willing to       Quantitative studies
retirement             work longer also       of desired pathway
                       preferred the phased   to retirement are
                       pathway Choosing the   needed as most
                       gradual pathway did    studies thus far are
                       not necessarily mean   qualitative
                       staying longer in
                       the workforce          Government and
                                              industry reports
                                              have not addressed
                                              this issue

Financial plans and    Gender gap in          Few peer-reviewed
expected retirement    superannuation         studies have been
income                 savings Majority       published, and these
                       expect main source     are mainly
                       of income to be        qualitative or
                       superannuation or      industry related
                                              Are boomers
                       Approximately 59%      preparing
                       expect savings to be   financially for
                       sufficient, however,   retirement, in
                       30 -50% expect their   addition to
                       standard of living     contributions to
                       to decline             compulsory super?
                                              And if so, how?

Responsibility for     Majority want          Only one peer-
funding retirement     responsibility to be   reviewed paper has
                       shared between the     been published on
                       individual,            this topic: a
                       government and         qualitative study.
                                              Do boomers have
                       General consensus      confidence that they
                       that the government    government will
                       has a responsibility   continue to fund an
                       to provide an Age      Age pension?

All topics                                    Little attention has
                                              been paid to
                                              subgroups such as
                                              comparing men's and
                                              women's retirement
                                              and describing the
                                              retirement intention
                                              of migrants from
                                              CALD backgrounds or
                                              in low status
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