The New Face of Retirement - 2002

In Summer 2002, Civic Ventures undertook its second national survey focusing on the attitudes of the next generation of retirees toward continuing to contribute to society. The effort was conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates of Washington, D.C. and was funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Conducted from July 22 to July 31, 2002, the poll includes 600 older Americans aged 50 to 75, including 300 volunteers and 300 non-volunteers. The results were released August 19, 2002.

The survey findings show that Sept. 11 appears to have had a galvanizing effect on older Americans and their retirement plans. Forty percent say they are more likely to serve as a result of the Sept. 11 attacks, and more than half are planning to make service a centerpiece of their post-retirement years.

In contrast to the 40 percent who say they are more likely to volunteer as the result of Sept. 11, only 10 percent say the recent economic downturn has made them less likely to serve. The true significance of these statistics lies in the demographics. As the Baby Boomers move into later life, they will comprise nearly 25 percent of the population in a quarter century. Their behavior will have enormous direct social impact and set the tone for older Americans in the coming decades.

Other Findings from The New Face of Retirement

  • Three in five surveyed (59 percent) see retirement as "a time to be active and involved, to start new activities, and to set new goals."
  • Those who plan to work in their retirement cite the desire to stay active and productive, rather than economic necessity, as the reason.
  • 56 percent say civic engagement will be at least a fairly important part of retirement.
  • 57 percent report having volunteered in the past three years, with one-quarter of those devoting at least five hours a week. An additional 21 percent of older Americans would commit at least five hours a week to volunteering if they received a small incentive for their service, doubling the current older adult volunteer workforce, from 25 percent to 46 percent.
  • Nearly one in three older adults say they would serve 15 hours a week for such an incentive.
  • Two in five non-volunteers who are interested in volunteering at least 15 hours a week name prescription-drug benefits as their most desirable incentive.
  • Working with children was found to be the most appealing volunteer activity among older adults, with 35 percent seeing that as most enjoyable, followed by service to religious organizations, other seniors, and hospitals.
  • More than half (52 percent) believe that the government should do more to fund programs that provide volunteer andcommunity involvement opportunities for older adults.
  • Currently, only 2.6 percent of the dollars going into AmeriCorps are for older Americans, while 75 percent of the dollars into Senior Corps are restricted to low-income seniors.

For full report, see attached PDF

Author / Founder: 
Civic Ventures
Publication / Initial Date: 
Sunday, September 1, 2002
2002_survey_analysis.pdf558.77 KB
2002_surveydata.pdf55.37 KB