Semi-retirement on rise – for many reasons

More people are semi-retiring these days – or want to semi-retire when they reach retirement age.

One in five Americans reaching retirement age opts to continue working, but fewer hours, while nearly half of younger working Americans plan to semi-retire before fully retiring, according to a new study by HSBC, The Future of Retirement.

Worldwide, even more working people plan to semi-retire, 56 percent, with two-thirds expecting to work part-time during their retirement years in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan, according to the study of 16,000 working people over age 25 worldwide, including 1,000 Americans.

Of those in semi-retirement, 45 percent have the same job with reduced hours, while the rest have a different job.

Interestingly, more people are semi-retiring by choice rather than by necessity. Only 11 percent in the study said they couldn’t afford to retire full-time, and 10 percent needed to bridge a shortfall in income.

Easing into retirement is attractive to many people, both in the United States and around the world. The study found that one-third of working age people expect to fully retire from work, 56 percent plan to semi-retire before fully retiring, and 10 percent don’t think they’ll ever fully retire.

The primary reasons respondents gave for semi-retiring are:

  • Keep active/keep my brain alert (34 percent)
  • Like working (29 percent)
  • Didn’t want to retire full-time immediately (26 percent)
  • Reduce stress (22 percent)
  • Health reasons (17 percent)
  • Unable to afford to retire full-time (11 percent)
  • Bridge a shortfall in retirement income (10 percent)
  • No longer able to find full-time employment (9 percent)
  • Had family members to support past normal retirement age (7 percent)


The study found differences between what people want at younger ages and what they want at retirement age. Whether the differences are generational or desires change as people age, there were notable differences.

For instance, while 41 percent of younger workers aspire to travel extensively when they retire, only 30 percent of those 65-plus do. And while 34 percent of current workers want to learn a new hobby or skill when they retire, only 23 percent of those over age 65 do.

Three out of four retirees say they have not been able to realize at least one of their dreams for retirement. Money is often a factor as retirees realize they did not save enough to make their dreams a reality, especially in the area of travel.

  • Extensive travel (30 percent achieved their aspirations; 21 percent did not)
  • Frequent vacations (38 percent achieved; 18 percent did not)
  • Buying a new car or other expensive item (14 percent achieved; 17 percent did not)
  • Living abroad (5 percent achieved; 17 percent did not)
  • Starting a business (7 percent achieved; 15 percent did not)
  • Learning a foreign language (7 percent achieved; 14 percent did not)
  • Writing a book (5 percent achieved; 14 percent did not)
  • Continuing to work to some extent (17 percent achieved; 12 percent did not)
  • Further education (6 percent achieved; 11 percent did not)
  • Learning a new skill/hobby (21 percent achieved; 10 percent did not)
  • Exercising/playing sports more (33 percent achieved; 10 percent did not)
  • Charity/Volunteer work (28 percent achieved; 9 percent did not)
  • Home improvement/gardening (39 percent achieved, 9 percent did not)
  • Spending more time with friends/family (58 percent achieved; 6 percent did not)