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Men at Work: Why Male Baby Boomers Un-Retire

baby boomers, retirement
Men are more likely to go back to work after retirement than women are. / Credit: Retirement image via Shutterstock

Men, motivated by a desire to still feel useful, continue working after retirement age — more so than women do, new research suggests.

Male and female baby boomers — those between the ages of 50 and 68 — choose to remain in the workforce at very different rates and for very different reasons, according to a study from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP).

"My study has shown that men are significantly more likely to go back to the workforce after retirement than women," said SIOP member Yujie Zhan, one of the study's authors and an assistant professor at Canada's Wilfrid Laurier University. "And the reason they do is because status was found to be very important to males." Men also keep working in order to "feel they are still useful," Zhan said.

Zhan and co-author Junqi Shi, an associate professor at Peking University in China, conducted the study to look at the different reasons men and women continue to work after retirement, and if those reasons correspond to gender role theory. This theory examines different behaviors and roles that are attributed to a specific gender — for example, the idea that women are supposed to be the caregivers and men are the breadwinners for the family.

Based on the study's results, Zhan recommends companies retain their workers after retirement by keeping in mind that both men and women come back for different reasons. But one of the most important of these reasons was generativity, the researchers found. This means retirees taking on mentorship roles so they can pass down information to the next generation.

"Baby boomers find this more meaningful, so it is effective if they are given a role where they feel recognized," Zhan said. "This can also help males looking for status roles, because they are also being recognized and promoted for their work."

This research will be presented at the 29th Annual SIOP Conference scheduled for this May in Hawaii.

Originally published on Business News Daily.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.