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Bureau of Labor Statistics > Office of Survey Methods and Research > Publications > Browse Research Papers

An Update on Bridge Jobs: The HRS War Babies

Michael D. Giandrea, Kevin E. Cahill, and Joseph F. Quinn

Abstract

Are today's youngest retirees following in the footsteps of their older peers with respect to gradual retirement? Recent evidence from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) suggests that most older Americans with full-time career jobs later in life transitioned to another job prior to complete labor force withdrawal. This paper explores the retirement patterns of a younger cohort of individuals from the HRS known as the "War Babies." These survey respondents were born between 1942 and 1947 and were 57 to 62 years of age at the time of their fourth bi-annual HRS interview in 2004. We compare the War Babies to an older cohort of HRS respondents and find that, for the most part, the War Babies have followed the gradual-retirement trends of their slightly older predecessors. Traditional one-time, permanent retirements appear to be fading, a sign that the impact of changes in the retirement income landscape since the 1980s continues to unfold.