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Interest in an encore career – a second (or later) career that includes both paying work and an effort to benefit society – continues despite the recession, according to a recent survey.
The San Francisco-based think tank Civic Ventures survey of Americans ages 44 to 70 shows that as many as 9 million people are involved in encore careers, up from 8.4 million in 2008. And about 31 million more people are interested in pursuing such an option. In other words, those currently pursuing encore careers and those interested in pursuing them represent 40 percent of Americans ages 44 to 70.
“The survey provides new evidence that what many people want from work changes after midlife,” said Marc Freedman, founder of Civic Ventures. “In the new, encore stage of life between midlife and true old age, many want work that has deeper personal meaning and that connects them to something larger than themselves.”
The survey results suggest that interest in an encore career is tempered by worries about the economy and the potential impact of the recession on individual financial security. About half of the survey respondents say they are very concerned about the economy making it tough to change careers at this time. But 27 percent of those who are interested in an encore career consider themselves very likely to make the switch within five years.
The percentage of respondents who say they are very interested in an encore career has dropped since the last survey in 2008. At that time, about 34 percent of respondents rated their level of interest as an 8 or higher on a 10-point scale. In the current survey, though, that is down to 25 percent.
A strong majority of respondents to the current survey – 64 percent – say they intend to keep working in the next stage of their lives. Some 31 percent say they want to use their skills and experience to help others, either in paid positions or as volunteers, and 31 percent say they intend to keep working because they need the money and health insurance benefits.
In general, people who are pursuing an encore career or interested in pursuing one expect to work longer. People currently working in encore careers say they expect to keep working until about age 69, while those who are considering an encore career say they expect to work until age 68.6. For both groups, this is an increase of more than three years over their answers in a similar survey three years ago.
Interest in encore careers appears to be driven at least in part by a concern about the well-being of future generations. About 73 percent of respondents say that expect that today’s children will grow up worse off than adults are now, and 70 percent say it is very important that they work to leave the world a better place.
In general, a respondent’s income makes little difference when it comes to interest in an encore career. Regardless of the level of income or household assets, the respondents were about equally divided between those who say they are interested in an encore career and those who say they are not.
Finally, people currently involved in encore careers are working a total of about 16.7 billion hours a year in education, health care, government and nonprofit efforts, according to the survey.