Attitudes to retirement transcend age

2005

A worker's age is irrelevant when it comes to second-guessing when they are likely to want to retire or how long they will keep working, a British survey has revealed.

The study of more than 1,600 people by the Employers Forum on Age has argued that attitudes to work, retirement and pensions are not linked to age, and any solution to the West's pensions' crisis needs to take that into account.

Government ministers and employers need to accept that people's aspirations and work-life experiences affect their ability and inclination to save.

A "one size fits all" solution to pensions saving, such as making everyone work until they are 70, would be almost bound to fail, warned the EFA.

Last month pensions' minister Stephen Timms said the government would publish a consultation document on how it proposed to tackle the issue in the spring.

The government-backed Pensions Commission is due to report on its findings at the end of November.

The EFA research argued workers are split into four types, whose attitudes are determined less by their age than their education, skills and the type of work they are doing.

But messages on working for longer currently appear to have little impact on any of the four, it added.

More than three out of 10 workers are focused, flourishing, well educated and happy. Despite this, they want to leave work and retire as soon as possible, it found.

By contrast, 21 per cent feel undervalued and unfulfilled and unhappy at work. They are looking forward to retirement, with just 3 per cent happy to work until they are 70.

A total of 27 per cent of employees are conscientious but cautious, said the EFA.

They see work as a significant part of their social life and the idea of stopping work to retire does not make sense.

Yet many feel the physical nature of the jobs they do will prevent them from working longer.

Some 21 per cent have an "easy-come, easy-go" attitude to work. They are laid back, confident and successful at work, and very much go their own way.

They are likely to have a similar attitude to retirement, said the EFA.

EFA director Sam Mercer said: "Our research reveals that age is irrelevant when it comes to people's attitudes to working for longer – over half of all workers want to retire as soon as possible.

"This should worry Government, given the need to extend working life to counter our ageing population and the looming pension crisis," she added.

"The workforce is made up of four groups with diverse aspirations. Government and employers must understand what motivates people so they can influence individual decisions about work and retirement," she continued.

"Smarter communication and offering tailored incentives to each group will be essential. We must recognise that people are different before we start talking about everyone working until they are 70."