Open Access Open Badges Research article

A survey of retirement intentions of baby boomers: an overview of health, social and economic determinants

Anne W Taylor1*, Rhiannon Pilkington1, Helen Feist2, Eleonora Dal Grande1 and Graeme Hugo2

Author Affiliations

1 Population Research & Outcome Studies, Discipline of Medicine, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia

2 Australian Population and Migration Research Centre, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:355  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-355

Published: 14 April 2014



Governments have been implementing policies aimed at halting the trend towards early retirement for Baby Boomers. Public policies can have a strong effect on when a person retires and this analysis contributes to an improved understanding of retirement aspirations in regards to health, social, workplace and economic determinants.


In October 2011 a telephone survey was undertaken with participants aged 50 to 65 years who were in paid employment and who had been in the workforce for the previous three years. Participants were obtained from two identical South Australian cohort studies - the North West Adelaide Health Study and the Florey Adelaide Male Ageing Study. The results of the telephone survey were linked to the original cohort data. Data were weighted by sex, age, postcode and probability of selection in the household. Work related questions included how much they thought about their retirement, current occupation, employment status, type of workplace and hours worked per week. Health related questions included current smoking status, physical activity, body mass index, self-reported health status and overall life satisfaction. Uni-variable and multi-variable analyses were undertaken to compare the different associations between people who were and were not intending to retire.


In total, 25.9% (nā€‰=ā€‰210) of people who were currently in paid employment indicated that they intend to retire completely from the workforce. The remainder indicated that they will continue to work (41.8% retire from full-time work but work part-time, 25.7% continue working part-time but reduce their current hours, and 6.7% never retire). The multi-variable results indicate that those with lower education, having a savings habit, and sales workers more likely to anticipate complete retirement. The self-employed, and those thinking only moderately about retirement, were more likely to extend their working life beyond age 65.


An important finding of this study is the large number of Baby Boomers who indicated that they would be happy to work part-time or never retire. Policies and continued dialogue aimed at making the workplace a safe, flexible and welcoming environment to accommodate this wish, and to entice others to take up this option over complete withdrawal from the labour force, is required.

Baby boomers; Retirement; Australia; Survey