No more lock-step retirement: Boomers' shifting meanings of work and retirement

Erik Kojola, Phyllis Moen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Standard pathways for work and retirement are being transformed as the large Boomer cohort moves through typical retirement ages during a moment of economic, social and political change. People are delaying retirement and moving into and out of paid work as the standard lock-step retirement becomes less dominant. However, little research has explored how and why Boomers are taking on these diverse pathways in their later careers. Accordingly, we conduct in-depth interviews with working and retired white-collar Boomers, exploring how they are working and the meanings and motivations for their decisions and plans in their later careers. We find that there is no single dominant pattern for retirement, but rather a diverse mix of pathways shaped by occupational identities, finances, health and perceptions of retirement. Boomers express a desire to have control over their time and to find meaning and purpose in either paid or unpaid activities. However, life course transitions, normative cultural scripts, and gender and class locations as well as workplace and social policies constrain their decisions and plans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-70
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Aging Studies
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Aging
  • Boomers
  • Career transitions
  • Encore careers
  • Retirement

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