|Title||Returning to work: The role of soft skills and automatability on unretirement decisions|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2022|
|Journal||The Journal of the Economics of Ageing|
|Keywords||Automation, Post-retirement employment, productive aging, Soft skills, technological change, unretirement|
Many retirees are seeking to return to work after retirement. In light of growing unretirement, we explore the linkages between unretirement decisions and individuals’ skill-specific automatability, i.e., the degree to which machines can replace their skills. The automatability is measured by how routinized individuals’ skills are and how little non-routine analytical adaptability, non-routine social intelligence, non-routine physical adaptability, and non-routine interpersonal adaptability their skills encompass. Using data from the 2000–2016 Health and Retirement Study, we find that retirees whose skills are more automatable are less likely than others to return to work. Among unretirees, those whose skills are more automatable tend to be hired into jobs whose task-contents are also more automatable. This work provides empirical evidence that retirees’ high automatability poses work disincentives and discourages productive aging.