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It is increasingly difficult to predict retirement rates for college and university faculty members or for any occupation because Congress, in amending the Age Discrimination in Employment Act in 1986, abolished the concept of a mandatory retirement age. Higher education was given special treatment in the sense that the act's protection did not apply to faculty over 70 years of age, but this provision was phased out in 1993 (Swan 1992). Today college and university faculty members have a great deal of latitude in the decision about when and under what conditions to retire. We used recent patterns of retirement in the AAG to predict the number of members who would retire in the near future. Retirement rates for 1993 AAG members were calculated by dividing the number of members reporting themselves as retired by the total number of members in each age class. These rates were then used to estimate the number of new retirees (a) during the period 1994-1998 and (b) for the period 1994-2003.
The percentages already retired were calculated using the 1993 data for the entire membership, by five- and ten-year age groups. The difference in retirement percentage between one age group and the next younger age group was multiplied by the number in the younger age group. This produces the number of new employment exits as each group progresses through the next five or ten years of their work careers. The 1993 retirement rates for the entire membership were applied to each of the subgroups. We assumed, therefore, that members of gender and specialty subgroups will retire at rates comparable to the AAG as a whole.
We estimate that 256 AAG members working at the start of 1994 will retire in the next five years and 617 in the next ten years. Most of the retirees will be male: 225 (88% of the total) in the next five years and 535 (87%) in the next ten years.
Not surprisingly, the cultural/historical category will account for more retirees than any other category (Table 2). Other specialties with many potential retirees are economic, conservation/land use, cartography/photogrammetry, applied/planning, physical, urban, climatology, and agricultural/rural.
New Faculty Hiring
Geography departments may or may not choose to replace retirees with individuals who have similar expertise. To gain an understanding of the expected future hiring practices of geography departments, we asked departmental chairs to indicate the specialty of new faculty hires. We used the same categories as
Table 2Retirement Projections by Topical Specialty
Next 5 Years
Next 10 Years
Source: Projections based on 1993 AAG membership data.