Men Still at Work: Professionals over Sixty and on the Job by Elizabeth F. Fideler, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Men Still at Work: Professionals over Sixty and on the Job

Men Still at Work: Professionals over Sixty and on the Job

by Elizabeth F. Fideler

View All Available Formats & Editions

Men Still at Work explores the reasons why many men are continuing to work well beyond the traditional retirement age. In today’s challenging economy, they are the second-fastest growing group of workers (just behind older women). Filled with profiles of older working men, as well as dynamic interview quotes, Men Still at Work explores thorny issues such as


Men Still at Work explores the reasons why many men are continuing to work well beyond the traditional retirement age. In today’s challenging economy, they are the second-fastest growing group of workers (just behind older women). Filled with profiles of older working men, as well as dynamic interview quotes, Men Still at Work explores thorny issues such as masculinity and the “need to provide,” as well as economic issues, job satisfaction, and more.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this companion to Women Still at Work, Fideler examines the factors which keep men in the workplace well past the commonly-accepted age of retirement. While theoretically a broad subject, she limits herself with the snowball method of sampling, which produced 156 respondents, "virtually all professionals…well-educated high achievers still working and still enjoying good health and abundant energy." As she admits, her subjects "tended to be white men with similar socioeconomic status." Absent are "poorly-educated men, employed in low-wage, low-skill, high-turnover jobs…obliged to continue working…out of economic necessity." As a result, Fideler's research offers up profiles of accomplished, successful men who remain active as a choice. It's an interesting look at the privileged and fortunate, but bears little relation to the common populace. While her examination of issues such as masculinity, father figures, the need to provide, and the need to remain active is valid, it still feels like a snapshot of the 1%, out of touch with the demands of the new economic climate. (Feb.)
Flagstaff Business News
It’s refreshing that Fideler bases her findings on actual research. Profiles of 60-somethings still on the job are both inspiring and informative.
Jimmy Heath
I, like many elders I know, am still working because I love what I do and I feel I have knowledge and experience to offer anyone interested. It's a beautiful thing to be a musician still able to perform, compose, and educate at the age of 87. This is a must-read for someone looking for a road map.
David McCullough
Elizabeth Fideler has taken on a fascinating and increasingly pertinent subject and through her skillful profiles of men at work in a great variety of fields, the result is a highly engaging book of considerable insight and merit. Bravo, Ms. Fideler!
Jerry A. Jacobs
We will need to know more about the labor force involvement of Americans over age 65– because this segment of the population will continue to grow, because this stage will represent a greater portion of our lives, and because this group will increasingly impact our economy and culture. Elizabeth Fideler offers us engaging and highly readable stories of men who continue to work while the majority of their cohort has retired, which complements her earlier study of working women in this age group. These accounts remind us of the importance of meaning and engagement at work, and not just for the elderly.
Carl E. Van Horn
Elizabeth Fideler has written a fascinating book on the experiences of older working men in today's rapidly changing economy. A follow-up to her study of older working women, Fideler once again demonstrates the value of compiling the personal stories of older Americans who remain on the job well-past traditional retirement age. Her insights will prove valuable, not only to policy makers and human resource managers, but also to older workers thinking about what to do in the next stage of their careers.
Douglas Goldstein
Should you work beyond “normal” retirement age? Men Still at Work answers important questions and offers encouragement for people who want to remain in the workforce for years. . . or decades.
Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes
Dr. Fideler’s powerful profiles of men who have remained hard at work provide us with more than stories. The descriptions of these men’s lives underscore the need for our society to get ready for 'what is coming next' as increasing numbers of baby boomers follow the lead of the men introduced to us in Men Still at Work.
In this follow-up to her Women Still at Work (2012), Fideler seeks to understand why many professional men age 60 or older choose to continue working at a time in life when many others have retired, and to describe their experiences as they navigate work life in an increasingly challenging economy. Drawing upon findings from the latest research on men, work, and aging, the results of her own survey, and candid profiles from in-depth interviews she conducted with such men, Fideler provides a glimpse into the complex inner world of this fast-growing segment of the US workforce. Older men's desire to find meaning in their work–and make a difference in others' lives via their work–is an oft-mentioned motive. The author also found that many of these men enjoyed a rich workplace social life through their relationships with colleagues and clientele alike. Surprisingly, more utilitarian and baser motives, such as the need for pay and benefits, or the allure of wielding power and authority, were not nearly as important to these men as one might think. Overall, an engaging, accessible overview of what the future holds for many younger men who will undoubtedly work into their 60s ... and beyond. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries.

Product Details

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

Men Still at Work

Professionals over Sixty and on the Job



Copyright © 2014 Rowman & Littlefield
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4422-2275-5



Real success is finding your lifework in the work that you love.

—David McCullough, Historian

Wall Street is said to be buoyant. Corporate profits as a share of national income are at a record high last seen in 1950. At the same time, job growth remains stalled and 700,000 layoffs are anticipated as $85 billion in automatic cuts to the federal budget ("sequestration") kick in. In this thorny context, it is remarkable that labor force growth rates for older men and older women, taken separately or combined, are greater than for any of the younger groups participating in or endeavoring to participate in the US workforce. This phenomenon can be explained only partially by Americans' greater longevity and by the arrival of the leading edge of the baby boomer cohort in the senior ranks. There is far more to it.

Men Still at Work: Professionals over Sixty and on the Job shows how older men are prospering in the paid workforce, particularly those who are well educated and in professional jobs, despite the recession of 2007–9 and the economic downturn that has persisted in its wake. (The recession may have ended and the stock market appears to have recovered, yet employment has not rebounded to former levels, home foreclosures are still numerous, and credit remains extremely tight.) Older men are the second-fastest growing segment of the US labor force because the participation rate of older females is even higher. This book highlights important factors that are sparking this phenomenon and influencing the timing of retirement for older men. It uncovers their reasons for opting to work well past conventional retirement age, for example, contributing experience, know-how, and institutional knowledge, not just making money (which some excel at doing)—and tells how they balance the demands of work, family, and the wider community with personal interests and needs. And, throughout, it makes a special point of comparing the genders on such measures as career field, length of career, time out for caregiving, employment status, and earning power. It identifies similarities and differences in the careers of older men and women—in particular, who and what influenced or encouraged them along the way and what motivates them to continue working. In so doing, it continues the narrative presented in Women Still at Work: Professionals over Sixty and on the Job.

Many well-known American men work past conventional retirement age. Composer Elliott Carter, who died recently at 103, worked almost to the very end of his life. Seth Glickenhaus, a ninety-eight-year-old money manager who started his career on Wall Street as a messenger, is in the process of selling his advisory firm to a firm led by retirement money manager Marvin Schwartz, who is a mere seventy-two. Tom and Ray Magliozzi of Car Talk and Good News Garage fame are seventy-six and sixty-four, respectively, and still working even though they are not making new radio shows. Framingham's Danforth Museum of Art recently featured the work of ninety-year-old Bostonian John Wilson, the sculptor whose bronze bust of Martin Luther King Jr. stands in the Rotunda of the US Capitol. (On Inauguration Day, President Obama paused in the Capitol Rotunda in front of Wilson's dignified bust of Dr. King.) More than half of the members of the US Senate are in their sixties, seventies, and eighties, including Chuck Grassley, eighty, and Carl Levin, seventy-nine. Forty-seven of the senators age sixty or older are men and twelve are women.

A completely random list of prominent older working men might well include: novelist Herman Wouk, ninety-eight; architect I. M. Pei, ninety-six; folksinger, songwriter, and environmental activist Pete Seeger, ninety-four; former POTUS, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and human rights advocate Jimmy Carter, eighty-eight; economist Paul Volcker, eighty-six; pop and jazz singer Tony Bennett, eighty-seven; business magnate Warren Buffett, eighty-three; stage, television and film actor James Earl Jones, eighty-two; author, historian, narrator, and lecturer David McCullough, eighty; country music singer-songwriter and film actor Willie Nelson, eighty; neurologist and author Oliver Sacks, eighty; economist, author, and Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman, seventy-nine; journalist, commentator Bill Moyers, seventy-nine; chef, television personality, and author Jacques Pepin, seventy-seven; blues singer and guitarist Bobby Rush, seventy-seven; actor, director, screenwriter, and author Alan Alda, seventy-seven; associate justices of the US Supreme Court Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy, both seventy-seven; bandleader and jazz pianist Eddie Palmieri, seventy-six; columnist and political commentator Mark Shields, seventy-six; sportswriter and novelist Frank Deford, seventy-four; professional football and soccer team owner Robert Kraft, seventy-two; Vice President of the United States Joseph Biden Jr., seventy; Mayor of New York City Michael R. Bloomberg, seventy-one; political commentator David Gergen, seventy-one; humorist, author, storyteller, and radio personality Garrison Keillor, seventy-one; and violinist Itzhak Perlman, sixty-eight.

Less well known but equally impressive are the men who bypass retirement simply because they enjoy their jobs and want to keep working full time or part time. Income is certainly important to them, but they believe that there is more to life than making money. Or they agree with the late Pulitzer Prize–winning editor and columnist Eugene Patterson, who lived to age eighty-nine according to his personal edict: "Don't just make a living. Make a mark."

Each individual has his own reasons for continuing to work, whether driven by financial or familial circumstances, or dreading what will happen if he stops—perhaps long-term unemployment or permanent joblessness, perhaps unrelieved lassitude. Here is what keeps Marc Mosko on the job. Mosko, a teacher of graduate courses in business management, marketing, creativity and design who also has a start-up company, told his daughter: "I work at age seventy-four because I don't know how to stop, and I don't like being too tight with money. Social Security does not start to cover the bills. But most important, work (if you are doing what you like to do) is very satisfying. So I continue teaching and am working hard at building an eBay business from home. This year it is starting to pay off as I am gathering a following of customers and learning how to buy better."

Then there is ninety-three-year-old Newt Wallace of Winters, California, who published the local weekly, The Winters Express, from 1946 until 1983 when he passed the baton to his son. After that, Newt Wallace wrote columns for a time and began delivering the newspaper in the Winters business district. He has been delivering the paper ever since because he enjoys connecting with people he knows and, in the words of the March 3, 2013, New York Times feature story about his long tenure, "keeping a finger on the pulse of a town after a life in journalism."

The longest-serving state legislator in Wisconsin is eighty-five-year-old Fred Risser, who has been in politics nearly sixty years. He was one of the seniors interviewed by Ina Jaffe for National Public Radio's "Working Late" series in February 2013 to emphasize a point: the paycheck is welcome, but their real reason for working is they want to and they can. Working past retirement age has become "the new reality."

Even before Women Still at Work was published in June 2012, I had been contemplating a companion volume that would be about older men choosing to continue working. Then, at a book party thrown by my husband and children to celebrate Women Still at Work, several men in their seventies challenged me to write about them. "What about me? I'm still working," was the refrain. It didn't take arm twisting to get me started. By July I was in the first phase of data collection. To ensure comparability, I revised only a few items from my survey of women to facilitate the change to men. I circulated it via e-mail and regular mail to colleagues and friends and to the women who had responded to the original survey, asking my contacts to complete the survey (if sixty or older, male, and still working for pay) or to refer or recruit other men who might be interested in participating in the project. Again, the survey snowballed and responses came from all over the country. This methodology, known as "snowball sampling" for obvious reasons, produced 156 respondents. Virtually all professionals, they are well-educated high achievers still working and still enjoying good health and abundant energy. Notably, these older men are quite similar demographically to the 155 older women identified by the earlier survey.

With most of the surveys in hand, I completed the second phase of data collection in the fall and winter of 2012–13 by conducting hour-long interviews (mostly by telephone and some in person) of a subset of thirty-three men, or 21 percent of the survey respondents. To ensure comparability of interview data, the questions for men were essentially unchanged from the protocol I had used for interviewing women. The individual profiles based on those interviews serve to put a face on the statistics about older workers; achieving that goal is the primary purpose of both books. With increasing numbers of older workers delaying retirement and remaining in the paid workforce—the share of employed Americans past sixty years of age is over 10 percent and climbing—it is important to learn not only the dimensions of this "new reality" but also what forces are driving the trend and what gets factored into the older worker's decision-making process.

A few caveats about the study are in order. First, and most obvious, my focus is on men. Naturally, women often come into the picture, for example, when discussing national and population and labor market trends, calling on the retirement research literature, and comparing findings about older working men with findings drawn from my research on older working women.

The second caveat concerns age—here it is sixty and older. While it is not at all unusual for men who are sixty to sixty-four to be working, I recruited them for the survey to include the oldest of the baby boomers (who have just started to reach retirement age). And, again, I needed to use the age parameters that I had chosen for my study of older women to obtain comparable data. (A longer discussion of what "older" means follows in chapter 2.)

Third, respondents for this study had to be in the paid workforce. Men who were doing volunteer jobs (unless they also held a paid position) were not eligible. This is not meant to slight volunteerism. Far from it. My fellow trustees on the board of the Framingham Public Library and I (as board chair) devote countless hours to civic improvement, and as I have discovered, many of the surveyed men contribute their time and energy as volunteers in their communities, too. Sociologists draw the distinction between work—expending mental and physical effort to perform a task—and occupation—performing a job in exchange for a wage or salary. The point being that work can occur outside of formal employment and without remuneration, for example, on behalf of the family or the community. Having stated the technical distinction, however, I will blur the two definitions by referring to that sort of unpaid work as volunteering and rely on the popular connotation of work to describe a job performed in exchange for a wage or salary.

Fourth, the findings discussed in Men Still at Work do not represent and cannot be generalized to the population of all older male workers. This is due to the chief drawback of snowball sampling: the survey does not reach all socioeconomic groups. As sociologist Sarah Willie acknowledges, snowball sampling fails to attain diversity when a survey circulates among people who share many characteristics, such as education level, jobs, race or ethnicity, religious affiliation, and so on. My survey identified older men engaged in a broad spectrum of occupations, living in different geographical regions, and having different religious affiliations, who nonetheless tended to be white men with similar socioeconomic status. To be sure, the respondents from minority groups (8 percent of the total of 156 survey respondents) share impressive advanced degrees and professional status with their white counterparts. The populations not represented in this book are poorly educated men, employed in low-wage, low-skill, high-turnover jobs, who are often obliged to continue working when they are older out of economic necessity. In contrast, my survey respondents are all at least above average financially after many years on the job and fortunate to be in a position to choose whether to retire or continue working.

Sarah Willie's study of the college experiences of alumni—all black males and females, who attended either Howard University or Northwestern University and had similar experiences to her own—raised the question: would subjects be more forthcoming with an interviewer of similar race or ethnicity? Willie found that she needed to send potential interviewees letters of introduction explaining her qualifications and her intentions. She found that "their willingness to proceed with the interview and their candor during the interview were in very large part based on whether they believed I was trustworthy and empathetic, and those characteristics were connected to the knowledge that we shared a similar racial experience." Willie's reflections made me wonder whether potential respondents would be suspicious of a researcher whose race, ethnicity, or gender differed from their own. Fortunately, in addition to the letters of introduction I myself sent out, several friends (who are mentioned in the acknowledgments) ran interference for me, calling or writing to potential survey respondents and interviewees they knew well and reassuring them about the soundness of both the researcher and the research. This helped greatly in obtaining participation.

Fifth, while the question of whether to retire comes up throughout the stories in this book, Men Still at Work is neither a book about retirement nor a guide to decision making in the senior years. I acknowledge that retirement is a long-desired choice for many people, for there are many, many valid reasons to exit the workforce—such as physical, economic, or personal reasons—as well as numerous alternative ways to find enjoyment in one's senior years. With that in mind, let me point out that the purported lure of retirement is precisely what makes the phenomenon of men and women choosing to delay it and continue working so intriguing. Among the options available to a senior male who wants to remain engaged and productive, how viable is the worker role? The next chapter contains an array of perspectives on aging and work to help answer that question.


Excerpted from Men Still at Work by ELIZABETH F. FIDELER. Copyright © 2014 Rowman & Littlefield. Excerpted by permission of ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Elizabeth F. Fideler is research fellow at the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College. She is the author of Women Still at Work: Professionals Over Sixty and On the Job and has been interviewed in outlets including the Boston Globe and PBS. She is a frequent speaker on topics related to aging.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >