Recent research by future of work expert Lynda Gratton suggests due to longer life spans the traditional life stages - education, work and retirement - no longer work.
Instead, we are going to restructure our lives and careers into a multistage life where we transition between education, traditional employment, semi-retirement and full retirement multiple times.
The chart below, from her MIT Sloan Review article The Corporate Implications of Longer Lives, illustrates this shift.
A key part of this new mix is periods of self-employment will become more common, especially for those who are older.
The reason for this shift, of course, is humans are living longer, healthier lives. Key quote:
Rising life expectancy means the level of savings required to provide a reasonable income for retirement at age 65 is becoming increasingly infeasible for most people. We predict that, given the average level of savings in advanced economies, many people currently in their mid-40s are likely to need to work into their early to mid-70s; many currently in their 20s (many of whom could live to be over 100) will be working into their late 70s, and even into their 80s.
This shift is already happening. The workforce participation rate for Americans 65 and older is at an all time high (about 20%). Also, Americans over the age of 55 have the highest rate of self-employment of any age cohort.
This is partially due to age discrimination. But older Americans also like the freedom and flexibility that come with being self-employed.
Many also want to work part-time and control their schedule. This is one reason why older Americans are working in the on-demand economy (ODE), partnering with firms like Lyft, Upwork and other online talent marketplaces.
According to the results of the recent Intuit On-Demand Workforce Study, about 25% of ODE workers are aged 52 and older.
More interesting is 1/3rd of the people aged 55+ working in the ODE report being retired.
Despite saying they are retired, they continue to work part-time because they want to or need to. These people are already fitting into Gratton's definition of a multistage life.
We'll have more on older and retired ODE workers in the near future. But a quick preview is we expect a lot more older Americans will work in the on-demand economy in the coming years.
Our Baby Boomer section has additional articles on this and related topics.