Large numbers of baby boomers expect to work past their state pension age, according to a report urging more “ageing-friendly” employment opportunities.
The generation born in the late 1950s is divided in its prospects for later life, with a “considerable proportion” – at 35% of men and 26% of women – thinking it more likely than not that they will still be working beyond the age of 66, the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS) said.
Fiftysomethings who are still working but in low-earning jobs, were among the most likely to report expecting to be working into their 60s and beyond the state pension age.
The research was funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and used data from the National Child Development Study, which for nearly 60 years has been following a group of more than 17,000 people born in March 1958.
Health was found to be a key factor behind a link between low incomes and people stopping work early, with poorer people being more likely to report poor general health, being disabled or poor mental well-being.
People who were less well off were also more likely to no longer be in employment by their mid-50s.
Professor Alissa Goodman, director of CLS, said: “We need to look at how we help people, particularly those who have experienced disadvantage in their lives, to stay healthy and in work for longer.
“And this needs to start early, not as people reach late middle age. With another increase in the state pension age in the future, this is more important than ever.”
Dr JD Carpentieri, a co-author of the report, said that if rising numbers of people are going to keep working into later life: “The UK needs more ageing-friendly employment practices and policies, such as increased opportunities to shift to part-time employment.”
The CLS is based at UCL (University College London) Institute of Education.
In July, the Government announced plans to raise the state pension age for people born between 1970 and 1978 to 68. The new change affects anyone born between April 6 1970 and April 5 1978.
The Government has said increases in life expectancy mean that those affected could still expect to receive more over their lifetimes than earlier generations.
Under current plans, the state pension age for men and women will be equalised at 65 at the end of 2018, before rising to 66 in 2020 and 67 in 2028.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said the CLS’s study shows how disadvantage during working lives generally leads to poorer later lives.
She continued: ” And it comes as no surprise that these are the people most likely to leave work in their 50s due to poor health, or if they are still working in their 50s, are most likely to expect to have to continue working past state pension age because they can’t afford to retire.
“We remain very concerned about the situation of millions of people in their 50s and 60s today who are unable to work because of ill health, caring or unemployment; and who are having to wait longer for their state pension than they had reasonably hoped and expected.
“Better health and employment opportunities throughout people’s working lives are undoubtedly key to helping more people to work for longer.”
A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) spokesman said: “It’s fantastic news that life expectancy continues to rise, but we all need to plan ahead for later life and state pension age must keep pace with these changes to remain fair and sustainable.
“With more than 1.2 million people over the age of 65 choosing to remain in work it’s clear that many people are embracing the health and social benefits of working for longer. But there is more to do which is why we launched our Fuller Working Lives strategy in order to encourage employers to take advantage of the benefits that older workers can bring.”
Lisa Harris, head of communications for Saga said those who are physically unable to continue in their jobs into later life, perhaps due to their health or a physically demanding role, should be recognised and supported.
She said: “Helping people to access training to help them change their career direction in later life should be a priority to help people stay active in the workforce for as long as they choose to do so.”