Nine in ten people in their early 50s consider working beyond retirement age

12 June 2010

Almost 90 per cent of people in their early 50s are considering working beyond the state pension age in order to have a higher standard of living, a study has found.

The finding has emerged from a survey of almost 10,000 British men and women who have been tracked by researchers throughout their lives.

Seventy per cent of the National Child Development Study members who were questioned about their retirement prospects said they were worried that they might not have enough to live on. However, 89 per cent of those surveyed appeared willing to consider working beyond retirement age if necessary.

Almost a quarter of them (24%) strongly agreed with the statement: ‘When I reach state pension age I would do some paid work if it meant a better standard of living.’ A further 47 per cent agreed with this view while 18 per cent ‘somewhat agreed’ with the idea of doing paid work beyond the official retirement age.

The study from the Institute of Education, University of London, also found that many of those who were worried about not having enough to live on were either paying into a pension or had been in a pension scheme at one time.

‘Paying into a pension no longer seems to ease people’s financial worries’, says the study’s author, Matthew Brown, of the Centre for Longitudinal Studies. ‘Seventy per cent of those with one or more pensions are worried about being poor in retirement. That is almost identical to the proportion (72%) of people without a pension who are concerned about not having enough to live on.’

Many higher earners were concerned about their retirement income too. More than six in ten people in higher professional/managerial jobs (63%), or with a net household income of more than £800 per week (62%), admitted to such worries.

Asked to envisage what his life would be like at 60 one man replied: ‘I will just have retired from the company I work for now. The mortgage will not yet be paid off and my pension from work will not be adequate to maintain our lifestyle so I will have started a new, lower-paid job, either part time or in a different field. My wife will still be working part time too’.

Some were even more gloomy about their prospects. ‘I will be too disabled to work but will be forced to, to pay the mortgage’, one woman predicted. But others believed they would work well into their sixties through choice rather than necessity. ‘I will have slowed down a bit because my body is ageing faster than my mind’, one man said. ‘However, I intend to work for as long as I can because I believe retirement will kill me of boredom!’

The survey was carried out when the NCDS members were aged either 50 or 51.

Brown, M. (2010) Attitudes Towards Pensions and Retirement at Age 50: Initial results from the National Child Development Study. CLS Working Paper 2010/2. London: Centre for Longitudinal Studies.

Further information

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Notes for editors

  1. The National Child Development Study is following the lives of people born in England, Scotland and Wales in one week of 1958. It is one of three British birth cohort studies managed by the Centre for Longitudinal Studies, which is based at the Institute of Education, University of London. The other CLS studies are tracking cohorts of adults and children born in 1970 and 2000/1. CLS is an Economic and Social Research Council Resource Centre and is core-funded by the council.
  2. The NCDS members were surveyed at birth and at ages 7, 11, 16, 23, 33, 42, 46 and 50. The age 50 survey collected information about employment, family life, health, housing, finances and attitudes. It was conducted between August 2008 and May 2009.
  3. The Institute of Education is a college of the University of London, specialising in teaching, research and consultancy in education and related areas of social science and professional practice. The 2008 Research Assessment Exercise judged almost two-thirds of the work submitted by the IOE as internationally significant, and 35 per cent as ‘world leading’.
  4.  The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK’s largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC’s planned total expenditure in 2009/10 is £204 million. At any one time the ESRC supports more than 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes.                      Ends ….


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