Human factors rather than policy are driving US workers to retire later, experts argued during debate organised by the Urban Institute in Washington DC last week.
John Gomperts, president, Civic Ventures, and CEO, Experience Corps, an organisation which represents baby boomers, said: "Policy is not the central driver of change with respect to people working longer.
"We do not need draconian changes, we need to listen to the people and reflect that into our policies."
In this framework, the shift from the defined benefit pension system to defined contribution already represented an economic incentive for people to work for longer, the panel agreed.
Gomperts added modest steps could be taken to support the choice of individuals to work longer, such as facilitating career changes that could suit ageing people's needs.
"Age discrimination is still perceived as well and alive. People feel that employers do not really want to retain older workers," said Sheila Zedlewski, director at the Urban Institute's Income and Benefits Policy Centre.
"Two out of ten workers in their fifties stop working, either because they are laid off or because they develop health limitations."
Ruth Wooden, president, Public Agenda, explained that there was a significant ambivalence in the current situation: "People expect to live longer, they would like to engage in different activities, such as volunteering, but they are terribly worried about their finances."
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