'Part-Tirement' is the new retirement

Article date: 19 May 2010

Almost 70% of UK adults intend to work beyond their retirement date

  • Self-employment seen as the top employment option in retirement
  • Emotional benefits as well as financial benefits key to this trend
  • One in 10 adults believe they won’t ever stop working.

More than 33 million* or 68% of UK adults** intend to work beyond their current standard retirement age, according to Aviva’s latest Real Retirement Report.

The report, released today, found that while a third (31%) of people would like to retire between the ages of 61-65, nearly as many (29%) see themselves giving up work between 66 and 70. One in eight (12%) plan to work beyond the age of 70, and a conscientious one in 10 (10%) don’t believe that they will ever stop working. The typical age of intended retirement for all adults questioned is 66 years**.   

Self-employment (61%) is seen as the top employment option in retirement for the over 55s followed by retail work (44%) and leisure/hospitality work (27%). The over 55s’ willingness to embrace self-employment - which offers freedom and flexibility - highlights the developing trend of gradual retirement or “part-tirement”.

Working into retirement isn’t just about finances:
While financial incentives certainly play a role in this willingness to work, numerous social and emotional benefits are also apparent. The top reason for working is to improve financial standing (60%) followed by "keeping out from under their partner’s feet" (54%). Keeping their mind active and interacting with others were also important to nearly half of respondents.

Men are more likely to think there aren’t any benefits of working past retirement when compared to women (a third of men vs a quarter of women). However, women are marginally less likely than men to work to improve their finances. Instead, they see keeping their minds active (men - 42% vs women - 47%) and interacting with others (men – 40% vs women – 47%) as key benefits of employment.

As people age, they see work increasingly as an option to keep them from under their partner’s feet (55-64 – 52%; 65–74 – 57%; 75 and over – 58%), perhaps reflecting the reality of having an additional 7.5 hours a day to spend together.

Not necessarily a career downshift:
A significant four in 10 (41%) of over 55s say they would continue working for their current employer beyond their official retirement date if possible. Of those a quarter (24%) would opt for part-tirement, while 13% would continue to work full time. Somewhat worryingly, one in 20 (5%) say this is not an option for them due to the enforced retirement date at their current place of work.

Health issues:
While the majority of people intend to work beyond the traditional retirement age, ill health might see this ambition abandoned. Indeed, it is estimated that as many as eight million over 50s will be obese – and dealing with the associated health issues – by 2025***. Currently, ill health is cited by around 40% of retirees as the reason behind giving up work, so this has significant implications for the UK in the future.

Clive Bolton, at-retirement director for Aviva Life, comments: “Government proposals mean that the state retirement age is set to increase over the next few years, but it appears that many UK adults already see themselves working well past the traditional retirement age. While increasing financial security is a major factor behind many people working, there are also significant emotional, social and intellectual benefits.

Keeping minds active, staying out from under their partner’s feet and enjoying social interaction appear to be real benefits that are pushing people to keep working. Gradual or part-tirement appears to be a very real choice for many older people rather than the traditional rigid retirement age.

“However, with 61% of people seeing self-employment – flexible but occasionally uncertain employment – as the best career choice for retirement, it is still important to ensure that sensible financial plans are made to boost income after the traditional retirement age. Indeed, we have found that ill health is cited by around four in 10 retirees as the reason for giving up work and as this cannot be predicted, it needs to be carefully planned for.” 


Download The Aviva Real Retirement Report - Issue Two (PDF 1.38MB)

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E-mail: k.butcher@wriglesworth.com


* = ONS – August 2009

** "Adults" refers to people aged 16 upwards.

*** = Source: ONS Labour market data 2009: This figure is based on the current number of male workers aged 35+ (10,058,000) and the current number of female workers aged 35+ (8,802,000). 47% of males and 36% of females are predicted to be classed as obese by 2025 (see note 3 below). Based on these figures, this will equate to 7,895,980 workers aged over 50 (4,727,260 men and 3,168,720, women).

For the purposes of this report, "standard retirement age" is currently defined as 60 years old for women and 65 for men.

All remaining data was sourced from the Aviva Real Retirement Index. This report is a definitive look at the personal finances of the UK’s over 55 population. Not only does it look at personal wealth, income sources and expenditure patterns but also track how these change in the "three ages" of retirement. In addition to the regular data, each quarter a spotlight will be shone onto a different relevant topic with working in retirement being the choice for Q2 2010. A press release highlighting the key points from Aviva’s first Real Retirement Report can be found at: www.aviva.com/media/news/5893.

About Aviva

  • Aviva is the world’s fifth largest* insurance group, serving 53 million customers across Europe, North America and Asia Pacific.
  • Aviva's main business activities are long-term savings, fund management and general insurance, with worldwide total sales of £45.1 billion and funds under management of £379 billion at 31 December 2009.
  • We are the largest insurance services provider in the UK and one of the leading providers of life and pensions products in Europe.
  • Aviva’s life and pensions business in the UK has a total market share of 10.3%** and a leading position in its key markets of savings, protection and annuities.
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