The Wall Street Journal recently published an article based on research by the Employee Benefit Research Institute.
For about one-third of working-age households (those between ages 30 and 59 in 2007), working until age 70 won’t enough to provide adequate income in retirement.
Other studies disagree: the Boston College Center for Retirement Research said that:
… by age 66 “about 55% of households are projected to be prepared for retirement” and that by 70, 86% are. They also found that at age 70, “low-income households … are nearly as prepared for retirement as their high-income counterparts (82% vs. 88%).”
When and how you retire depends on the decisions you make while you’re working. “Retirement” is actually a fairly modern concept. For most of human history people worked until they couldn’t work any longer and then were supported by their children. It’s one of the reasons to have large families: they were the parents’ old age plans.
During much of the 20th Century many men worked in jobs that involved hard physical labor. As we became more of a service economy, it became physically possible for people to work until later in life and many choose to work after the traditional retirement age because they want to.
The important thing to remember is that if you get financially ready for retirement, you have a choice. That’s why it’s important to prepare, so that to retire or to keep working is your decision.