Mortality study 'fuels case for ending retirement ages'

2005

Research suggesting retired men could be living until the age of 90 within the next decade have made it all the more urgent that Britain scraps mandatory retirement ages, employers have said.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has said the figures from the Continuous Mortality Investigations Bureau make it a nonsense to persevere with "arbitrary end-points" to people's working lives.

The CMIB, part of the actuarial profession, has studied mortality rates and has concluded there has been a big improvement in death rates and life expectancy of 65-year-olds during the past few years.

The bureau has steered clear of making any hard and fast predictions, arguing issues such as individual choice, lifestyles, diet, smoking and drugs make predicting future mortality hugely uncertain.

But if recent trends are extrapolated over the next decade, it is likely that there will be dramatic increases in life expectancy, at least among men (women were not surveyed).

In 1997, the research suggested that by 2005 a 65-year-old man could expect to live on average until the age of 83 years and one month.

In fact, the reality is 86 years and seven months, a full three and a half years longer.

And if current trends continue, men who are 65 in the year 2015 could well live until they are 89 years and 10 months.

Charles Cotton, CIPD pensions adviser, said, the figures simply emphasised the need for the abolition of mandatory retirement ages.

"These arbitrary end-points to working lives are bad for business, and bad for the quality of life of the long-term pensioners they create," he said.

"Many workers want to keep working beyond current retirement ages, albeit in many cases on reduced hours or in other more flexible ways.

"In the future, we expect this trend to accelerate as people choose to extend their working lives in order to supplement their retirement incomes and maintain quality of life," he added.

Mandatory retirement ages led to firms simply "kicking people out of the door because of their age", meaning employers waved goodbye to experienced and talented workers, he stressed.

"At a time when employers are struggling to recruit and retain workers with the skills and experience they need, this makes no business sense.

"With an ageing population, many firms are recognising that they need to recruit and retain older workers to ensure their workforce reflects the populations they serve," he added.

The CIPD's own research on this area has calculated that average cost of replacing an employee who leaves is around £4,500.

Workers over the age of 40 begin suffering age discrimination, it added, although this will become illegal from October 2006.

Employers often see older workers as, on average, more productive, reliable, committed and punctual than the rest of the workforce, it argued.