TIAA-CREF Institute Study Finds Just 35 Percent of University Faculty Expect to Retire by "Normal" Retirement Age

Results Highlight Challenges Institutions Face, Call Into Question Assumptions of Faculty Reluctant to Retire and Highlight Gender Differences
New York, June 11, 2015 — According to a new report released today by the TIAA-CREF Institute, 65 percent of tenured, senior faculty members plan to put off retirement for various reasons. "Understanding the Faculty Retirement (Non)Decision: Results from the Faculty Career and Retirement Survey" investigated the dynamics of the faculty retirement decision and why many appear reluctant to retire at a traditional age.
The study refutes the notion that faculty members’ reluctance to retire is necessitated by finances, finding instead that most want to continue in their position to a more advanced age. Sixteen percent said they would prefer to retire by the “normal” retirement age of 67, but expect to work longer (reluctantly reluctant), while 49 percent want to work longer (reluctant by choice). Female faculty members are more likely than their male colleagues to expect to retire by normal retirement age. Unconfirmed assumptions often appear in both cases – assumptions regarding personal finances in the case of those reluctantly reluctant to retire, and assumptions regarding viable work alternatives in the case of those reluctant by choice.
“As universities strive to keep their workforces diverse and dynamic, we hope this study, along with our other research, will be a vital tool in understanding the attitudes and motivations of their faculty. Challenging the conventional wisdom of why faculty members retire with data-backed research is an important step to better understanding this dynamic,” said Stephanie Bell-Rose, Senior Managing Director and Head of the TIAA-CREF Institute.
TIAA-CREF Institute senior economist Paul J. Yakoboski, who authored the report, indicated that universities should engage faculty both on the financial and psychosocial aspects of retirement. A systematic evaluation of personal finances in the context of an individual’s retirement readiness can address the financial aspects, while a thorough evaluation of how an individual could spend his or her time if retired can address the psychosocial aspects.  Such exercises would allow senior faculty to make fully informed decisions regarding whether and when to retire.
The complete study, which includes analysis of the three groups, “traditional retirees,” those “reluctantly reluctant” to retire, and those “reluctant by choice” to retire, can be found at .

About the TIAA-CREF Institute

The TIAA-CREF Institute helps advance the ways individuals and institutions plan for financial security and organizational effectiveness. The Institute conducts in-depth research, provides access to a network of thought leaders and enables those it serves to anticipate trends, plan future strategies and maximize opportunities for success.


TIAA-CREF ( is a national financial services organization with $866 billion in assets under management (as of 3.31.15) and is the leading provider of retirement services in the academic, research, medical and cultural fields.

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TIAA-CREF Institute is a division of Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA), New York, NY. TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services, LLC, Teachers Personal Investors Services, Inc., and Nuveen Securities, LLC, Members FINRA and SIPC, distribute securities products.