These blogs are written by third party guest authors to help provide additional insight and perspective.
As part of our later life mortgages and borrowing blog series, we’re extremely grateful to Patrick Thomson, Senior Programme Manager for Fulfilling Work at the Centre for Ageing Better, for supplying this interesting read about how our working patterns are changing.
With the labour market in a state of flux, our latest work with the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) looking at changing patterns of work for people at older ages couldn’t be more timely.
We can see that jobs and the people doing them are changing. Those approaching retirement are now more likely to be in work that is stressful and demanding, which can have a negative impact on workers’ ability to stay in a job - 1 in 4 people say they couldn’t do their job over the age of 60.
While this could lead to positive changes on a personal level, for example moving to a job or industry you enjoy more, or reducing your hours, some people may be forced to leave the workforce prematurely, which can have a devastating effect on financial stability in retirement. Evidence shows that over 50s are twice as likely to face long-term unemployment which means relying on savings and not contributing to pensions in crucial years before retirement.
Moving away from the retirement ‘cliff edge’
We’re also retiring differently from our parents and grandparents. In 2011 I played a (very small) part in helping to remove the default retirement age, by bringing together the evidence on what the impacts on business and individuals would be. Removing this mandatory retirement age meant that employers could no longer ‘retire’ people at 65 without a good reason, and people didn’t need to ‘request’ to work for longer.
Ten years on we can see that far fewer people have a ‘cliff-edge’ retirement. IFS Analysis of Labour Force Survey shows that in the mid-2000s there were two clear retirement peaks - at 60 and 65. From 2004-07, around 10% of working 59-year olds and over 30% of working 64-year-olds were retired a year later. From 2012-19, that ‘peak’ at age 59/60 had almost disappeared, replaced with a steadier increase up to age 63. While there is still a visible spike in retirements at age 64/65, it has shrunk to below 25%. This for many people should be a good thing, as you are better able to balance the transition. for many people should be a good thing, as you are better able to balance the transition.
We want to be more flexible
While we’re working longer on average, this doesn’t always mean we’re working more. The IFS research shows that from your mid-40s on, people are more likely to want to work fewer hours, not more. Unfortunately jobs for the most part aren’t always designed with flexibility in mind. But as our pilots, toolkits and guidance with Timewise show - they could be.
Many people miss out on the opportunities that flexibility can bring, because of the type of work they do, the kind of employers they work for, or for something like having a health condition. Our research shows that over 50s with a health problem are 4% more likely to want shorter hours than those without a health problem. But they’re also the people least likely to change jobs.
The government has a manifesto commitment to move closer to a system of having flexible working by default, which has been in the news recently as businesses plan for how (or if) workers return to the office. We know with the furlough unwinding and churn in the job market increasing, there’s likely to be a lot more change still to come.
The Centre for Ageing Better creates change in policy and practice informed by evidence and works with partners across England to improve employment, housing, health and communities. Ageing Better is a charitable foundation, funded by The National Lottery Community Fund.
Guest post supplied by Patrick Thomson, Centre for ageing better. By publishing and hosting information from guest authors on the Ipswich Building Society website this does not constitute an affiliation with, nor a recommendation of, any third party organisation. We recommend that if the content of this article applies to you, or if you require further information on the particular topic it raises, that you seek specialist advice.