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Retirement Is Not Always A Choice That Workers Can Afford To Make

11th November 2023

"More of us may feel little choice but to work a year or two longer than planned." Paul Johnson writes for The Times.

OK, I know this is a niche irritation but I am prone to a serious outbreak of tutting whenever I see or hear reference to the state retirement age. There is no such thing. There is an age at which you become eligible for your state pension — 66 at present and rising to 67 between 2026 and 2028 — but that has nothing to do with retirement.

We do not live in a simple world in which most people work to 66 and then stop. Only a small minority, about 10 per cent, actually leave paid work at that point. Well over half of men and about two thirds of women stop work before 66. Conversely, about a third of men and a quarter of women are still in some form of paid work at age 66, with significant numbers still working well beyond that. You can, and many do, receive your state pension while still earning.

As recent work by my colleague Jonathan Cribb has shown, most of those out of work in their late fifties and many in their early sixties do not consider themselves to be "retired". Many will say that they are long-term sick or responsible for looking after family but then without changing their economic behaviour will consider themselves retired later on.

That psychology seems to relate to economic opportunity and social norms. Most of those who are well off and leave work before state pension age think of themselves as retired. They tend to have some private pension income, to have paid off the mortgage and be able to live comfortably enough on their own resources.

By contrast, if you are poor and leave the labour market early you are more likely to declare yourself too sick to work and will probably be largely dependent on benefits. You will then start to consider yourself retired once the state pension kicks in, or as it draws near.

Read the full article HERE