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Pandemic Economy or Not, Some Are Aspiring To Retire Early

May 20, 2021

A new study from Hearts and Wallets, a research firm founded in 2010 to study American retirement saving and investing trends, hints that the dream of retiring in late middle age is alive and well, although perhaps in need of a reality check.

The survey results, culled from responses to questions posed to almost 6,000 U.S. households, suggest that baby boomers and members of Generation X are eager to move on from the office. Thirty-nine percent of all respondents aspired to retire before they reached age 65, and 18% said they wanted to retire before age 59. In addition, 38% of people polled who were younger than age 54 indicated that they would prefer to stop working full-time by age 55. The question is whether these pre-retirees can maintain financial stability across the rest of their lives if they retire so early. People are being encouraged to work well into their 60s for practical reasons: the chance to retire closer to age 70 to obtain greater monthly Social Security benefits, the opportunity to contribute longer to tax-advantaged retirement accounts, and the potential benefit of additional compounding of invested retirement assets.   

As if to further illustrate the contrast between pre-retiree wants and pre-retiree needs, 34% of the respondents wanted to walk away from their careers at a particular age by choice, yet 53% indicated that they wanted to continue with their full-time job "as long as health permits."1