As the 1979 Youth cohort approached their fifties, questions were added about retirement preparation and expectations, starting with the 2006 survey year. 

Table 1 shows the retirement preparation/expectation variables and the survey years they have been asked. Variable question names begin with the "RETIRE_EXP" prefix.

In 2018, the retirement section was revamped and expanded so that respondents (many who were starting to retire) could provide more complete information about their retirement funds. Information on retirement income can be found in the Pension Benefits & Pension Plans section of this Users Guide. 

Also in 2018, respondents were asked if their employer had ever offered an early retirement window, one with a special financial incentive like a cash bonus or improved pension benefits. 

Table 1. Retirement Preparation & Expectation Questions asked of NLSY79 Respondents: 2006-2018

Question Survey Year
2012 2014
2016 2018
What is the probability that you will not be working for pay at age 67? age 65? age 62? * *  *  *      
How would you define retirement for yourself? ("Select All" categories include stop work, receive pension, work for fun, etc.) * *  *  * *    
Approximately at what age do you think you'll retire? * *  *  * *    
Do you expect to work for pay..or at a family business for pay/profit in the future?   *  * * *    
...Ever calculated how much retirement income you would need at retirement? * * *  * *    
...Ever consulted a financial planner about how to plan your finances after retirement? * * *  * *    
...Ever read any magazines or books on retirement spending? * * *  * *    
...Ever used a computer program to help you plan your retirement? * * *  * *    
...Ever attended any meetings on retirement or retirement planning? * * *  * *    
Were any of the meetings organized by your (or your spouse's/partner's) employer? * * *  * *    
Did you (or your spouse's/partner's) attend the meetings on a voluntary basis or was attendance required? * *  *   * *    
What do you think the chances are... that you will be working full-time after you reach age 62? (age 65?)          * *  *
...your health will limit your work activity during the next 10 years?          * *  * (and spouse/partner) will leave inheritances totaling $10,000 or more? $100,00 or more?          * * will live to be 75 or more? (85 or more?)          * *  * will ever have to move to a nursing home?          * *   * 
How much planning have you done for your retirement?              *

Right now, would you like to leave work altogether, but plan to keep working because you need health insurance?


Right now, would you like to leave work altogether, but plan to keep working because you need the money?


 1 Only a random sample of 991 respondents were asked retirement expectations questions in 2006.

Survey Instruments and Documentation Questions about retirement expectations can be found in the following sections: Retirement Expectations Part I (2006), Retirement Expectations Part II (2006), and Retirement Expectations (2008-2018).  
Areas of Interest Retirement Expectations variables are found in the "Retirement" area of interest.