Retired People Want to Work!

by Dr. Ros Altmann

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More than half of retirees across the EU would like to work, even if they don’t need the money

Rethinking Retirement can benefit millions of people

let’s make 2015 the year we reinvent retirement - part-time work, ‘gap breaks’, retraining could enhance later life for all

Some fascinating research from the EU Eurofund research (http://eurofound.europa.eu/sites/default/files/ef_files/pubdocs/2014/03/en/1/EF1403EN.pdf ) reveals that across the continent, older people are retiring before they need or want to. 

Over half of retired people would like to work:  Surveys among EU nations show that more than half (53%) of all retirees would like to work - and the proportion is even higher for those who are younger, healthier and better educated. 

People in their 60s and even 70s still want to work:  Indeed, an age-breakdown shows that 56% of people aged 60-69 who are already retired would still like to be working, while an astonishing 44% of retirees in their 70s also say they would like to work.

New phase of ‘pre-retirement’ – with part-time work preferred:  Of those who are already retired, 49% of women and 33% of men say they would prefer to work part time. Many people who retired would have preferred some time off and then to return to work part-time, perhaps in mentoring roles, or to learn new skills.  Currently, the idea of retirement is usually a one-off decision, whereas the Surveys suggest most people would prefer to be able to retire more gradually.

Not just for the money:  And this is not just because of the money, 50% say they would want to work even if they weren’t struggling to make ends meet.

Job satisfaction for older people higher than for younger staff:  Indeed, job satisfaction among older workers is higher than for younger workers.  Of those people aged over 65 who are still working, 70% say they would enjoy working even if they didn’t need the money - this compares with 52% for those aged 50-64 and 49% for 15-49 year olds.

Some people retire when they just need a break but then don’t return:  These figures suggest that many of those who have retired may just have needed a break from work, or would have liked to continue at a less intense level, rather than stopping altogether. 

Gap breaks?:  Perhaps employers could consider introducing the concept of ‘gap breaks’ for older workers. This could be a revolutionary way to manage an aging workforce.  For those who have worked for an employer for many years, who may want or need an extended period of time off, but would like to return to work afterwards, such a scheme could help retain the skills and experience of older employees, while allowing them to ‘recharge their batteries’.  Indeed, in Australia, there is a concept of ‘long-service leave’, where employees who have worked for a company for over ten years are entitled to three months holiday. 

Older people enjoy volunteering but also want paid work:  Older people are happy to volunteer but would like paid work too:  56% of people aged over 50 who are volunteering are happy to being doing that but would like to spend more time in paid work

Working longer can be better for physical, mental as well as financial health: There is also evidence that suggests having a choice over retirement is better for people’s health, and that work is good for both physical and mental health and wellbeing, with involuntary labour market exit being detrimental for both health and wellbeing.

It’s time to reinvent retirement :  As people are living longer healthier lives we must not miss the opportunity to extend working life and boost business and the economy, as well as
reducing the burdens of an aging population on future generations.

ENDS

The research paper is:
Eurofound (2014), Work preferences after 50, Publications Office of the
European Union, Luxembourg
http://eurofound.europa.eu/sites/default/files/ef_files/pubdocs/2014/03/en/1/EF1403EN.pdf

Date: 26 December 2014


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