GAO Explores Phased Retirement to Potentially Inform U.S. Policy

To keep skilled people in the workforce longer, some countries have implemented phased retirement programs – and now the Government Accountability Office says a study of a handful of these efforts could inform a U.S. strategy.

In a report released April 1, GAO identified 17 countries with aging populations that have phased retirement options. These arrangements allow older employees to cut their workhours to transition into retirement rather than stop working abruptly at a certain age.

GAO explored how four countries -- Canada, Germany, Sweden and the U.K. -- use phased retirement on the national level. The watchdog examined the extent to which phased retirement exists in other countries, the key aspects of these programs in selected countries, and the countries’ experiences with phased retirement and how those experiences can inform U.S. policies.

Phased retirement is still uncommon in the U.S., GAO noted, but these options could still be a possibility here.

“We found program designs that could work under the unique institutional conditions here,” GAO said. “For example, many of the programs were designed to work with traditional pensions, but some included employee-directed retirement plans, which are more common here.”

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