When and Why Faculty Retire

Statistical studies sometimes can be helpful, sometimes misleading, and sometimes both concurrently. Keeping that firmly in mind, this page is meant to offer some "what it's worth" information on the subject of when and why University and College faculties retire. There are interesting studies offering overlays among a variety of disciplines, for example, there is information contrasting the satisfaction of such factors as health, financial status location of retirement, patterns of activity after retirement, and so forth. There is even terminology for those who stay close to the academy and pursue their pedagogic interests and those who don't. Those staying close to their academic careers and institutions are called "maintainers" and those who adopt nonprofessional patterns of behavior in retirement and/or move away from their career centers are called "transformers." Below is a list of sources that go back about twenty years. There is very little available after January of 2000 (excluding, of course, the educational statistics that can be obtained from the Government Printing Office)

What we found missing was much information on retirement migration and housing choices even though decisions concerning these matters greatly affected retiree's quality of live. Kevin Grey has some discussion of these issues as it pertains to TIAA-CREF annuitants and Mark Ingraham and Mario Melletti also discuss why academics make the residential choices they make. The problem with these sources they are fifteen to twenty-five years old.

On the other hand, what is well-researched are the activity patterns of retired professors. See: e.g., Arnold Auerback, Lorraine Dorfman, Alan R. Rowe and Robert Snow.

For those of you who might have missed it, CalPERS PERSpective for the Spring 2005 is devoted entirely to retirement issues. For example, CalPERS offers Financial Planning Seminars at no charge for handling your business affairs should you find yourself unable to do so (888-225-7377); and new information on the revised CalPERS Long-Term Care program (800-338-2244). Also there is useful information on the impending debate concerning Sacramento's proposal to change faculty pensions from a benefit plan to a contribution plan.

General Resources:

Auerback, Arnold, "Emeritus Professors: Engagement and Involvement", Educational Gerontology, 10 (1984).

Digest of Educational Statistics, United States Government Printing Office, Washington D.C.

Dorfman, Lorraine T., Research in Higher Education, 20 (1984) p.89f. This collection gives comparative information by professors from different types of institutions.

_________________, The Sun Still Shone (1997). The professional and nonprofessional experiences and activities of university/college professors after retirement.

Gray, Keven, Retirement Plans and Expectations, (1989). A discussion of housing and migration choices that affect quality of life decisions.

Ingraham, Mark H., My Purpose Holds (1974). Discussion of residential choices: Kaye, Lenard W., and Abraham Monk, "Sex Role Traditions and Retirement from Academe," Gerontologist, 24 (1984).

Journal of Gerontology. The Journal has interesting data on retirees by discipline, early retirement, research after retirement, and special incentive retirement. See also Educational Gerontology, and Gerontologist .

Patton, Carl VF. "Early Retirement in Academia: Making the Decision," Gerontologist 17 (1977).

Rowe, Alan R. Journal of Gerontology , vol. 27, 28, 31(1976). Studies of retired scientists.

Melletti, Mario A. Voices of Experience: 1500 Retired People Talk about Retirement (1984).

Snow, Robert B. And Robert J. Havighurst, "Lifestyle Types and Patterns of Retirement of Educators," Gerontologist, 17 (1977). Discussion of "maintainers" and "transformers."


Search Google for Scholar Academic Retirement for most current information, including discussion of errors in academic retirement plans. Also CalPERS offers an on-line assessment of changes in Health Plans that might be useful following retirement.

One helpful additional service is called Video streaming. This allows you to tap into CalPERS Video Center and it will deliver to your personal computer video/audio information on retirement strategy, investment returns, prescription drugs, and current policy changes in health care.

The Emeriti office has information concerning the general rights and privileges of Emeriti faculty at the University, but Colleges and Schools/ Departments frequently offer differing options.

Prepared by Donald Burrill