of Postsecondary Faculty survey (see Figure 5-1), a plurality—37.3 percent—plan to retire “on time,” presumably in their mid- to late sixties. The next largest group, 28.6 percent, says they will retire “late,” and a slightly smaller share, 25 percent, intends to do so “early.” Almost 8 percent, however, say they will work until “very late,” and a tiny sliver, 1.3 percent, intends to leave “very early.”

More recently, a 2011 study of full-time faculty members over age 60 found fully three-quarters expecting to continue working past the customary retirement age, with 60 percent saying they would do so by choice and 15 percent citing external factors, which were “primarily financial” according to Martin Conley.8 Because these data were collected shortly after the 2008 economic collapse, however, many people’s retirement accounts may have since rebounded, she added.


Figure 5-1 Percentage distribution of expected timing of retirement of full-time instructional faculty and staff: 2003–04.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education. Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF), Data Analysis System (DAS).


8 Paul J. Yakoboski. “Should I Stay or Should I Go? The Faculty Retirement Decision.” Trends and Issues, TIAA-CREF Institute (December 2011).

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