How Early Is Early Retirement? (New Data)

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It’s a basic question, but one that I have struggled to find any data on: how many people retire at what age?  I found a chart from a University of MN study a few years ago and ‘reverse engineered’ some data, but I knew that my math wasn’t very exact.

Now I came across this chart / data from a helpful website called

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It says the data comes from a 2017 Federal Reserve study, which would seem to be a pretty authoritative source.   I had previously estimated that only about 5% of people retired by age 50, this would suggest it is closer to 10%. It jumps up to about a quarter of people by age 55.

I feel pretty good about the data as it says about half of all people are retired between 61 and 62. That’s right on par with what I frequently see reported.

With this new data set, I would say that ‘early’ retirement would still be anyone who reaches FIRE (financial independence & retired early) in their 50s. People that are ready to retire before they turn 50 have done an exceptional job.

Any surprises as you look at this data?

Image Credit: Pixabay

6 thoughts on “How Early Is Early Retirement? (New Data)

  1. I am surprised 50 is as nearly 10%, nearly double your previous guesstimate, Chief. It makes me wonder what percentage of that is “involuntarily retired.” I’d also be interested to learn more about non-retirees at 70: Do they want to work, need to work, or just keep-on-keeping-on?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My own experience makes the ‘nearly 10%’ figure seem high. I retired just before my 50th birthday and even now – 3.5 years later, I don’t have any friends or former colleagues that are my age and have quit working. I would guess that a good share of the 70+ non-retirees have hobby jobs or work part-time. Tony Bennett is 93 and he is still working!


  2. I have a similar experience with former colleagues. I only know of one former colleague that has actually retired in the below 60 age range from my former MegaCorp. Although, he was “forced” to leave early at 58 yrs old, so I’m not sure that counts, although he seems to be making do, so he must have been somewhat prepared. Most former colleagues continue to work and seem to indicate a need to continue working until full SS age. My personal experience with former colleagues also seems to correlate to what we typically hear about the current “poor” state of retirement account balances, most have very little saved. I wonder if the above chart is more reflective of the number of folks forced into “early retirement” verses folks actually “ready” for early retirement. I fear things may only be getting worse for many future retirees, based on the weak saving habits most Americans appear to have these days. Fortunately, the job market is strong, so maybe the whole “…I’ll just work longer” response can actually work out for those in need.

    I thank my lucky stars everyday, that I’m no longer on the treadmill and very happy I was able to do it at 50.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The more I think about it, I do have one acquaintance who was retired early (~49 yrs old) do to a severe health issue. I would guess medical emergencies might account for a lot of these folks.


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