Fear of mental & physical decline prompting people to remain in work

  • Half (48%) of UK workers expect to work beyond age 65
  • In comparison just one in five (22%) workers in France expect to work past 65, but (70%) of workers in the Netherlands plan to do so
  • Delaying retirement to keep active and keep their brain alert is important for 55% of people in UK
  • Running out of money in retirement (40%) is less of a concern than declining physical health (48%) and getting Alzheimer’s or dementia (41%)
  • Across Europe UK workers are the least likely to stop work one day and start a life of leisure the next, with only 1 in 4 (28%) favouring this option

The largest global retirement survey of its kind carried out in 15 countries by international pensions and investment firm Aegon* has revealed that half of those in the UK readily see themselves delaying retirement and continuing to work beyond age 65. This compares to only one in five of workers in France (22%) who expect to still be working at this stage of life. Overshadowing both is the Netherlands where a staggering seven in ten people expecting to prolong their working life beyond 65.

Only 28% of workers in the UK want a cliff edge retirement, where they stop working in one go, the lowest across Europe and one of the lowest among the 15 survey countries. Workers in Spain, for example, are far more favourable to stopping work altogether and entering retirement, with 52% favouring this option.

Surprisingly, the motivation for working longer isn’t solely financial gain. Over half (55%) of those in the UK who wanted to prolong their career identified keeping active and their brain alert as the most important benefit of continuing to work, while 37% said they enjoyed their work.

The focus on maintaining good health and staying active through work, tallies with people’s concerns about later life. Declining physical health was cited as the largest retirement concern (48%), followed by fears of Alzheimer's or dementia (41%). Both elements of failing health were seen as more of a concern than running out of money (40%).

Two in five (40%) of people in the UK say they are concerned about their health in older age yet only 46% of people say they think about their long-term health when making lifestyle choices. On average workers in the UK expect to live to age 80 and to age 75 in good health suggesting an expectation of spending five years in poor health.

Kate Smith, Head of Pensions at Aegon, commented:

“People are increasingly redefining their working years and time spent in retirement, choosing to blend work commitments with more free time as they transition into retirement. There’s also a growing recognition that in addition to supporting our wealth, work can protect our health too.

“An increasing State Pension Age will explain why some see themselves having a longer working life, but the research shows an interesting association between health and remaining in paid employment. Today’s generation of workers recognise that one of the best way to protect their health is to remain active and that work can be part of an active life.”


Further information

*The research was conducted online between 22 January and 14 February 2019 with 14,400 workers and 1600 retired people across 15 countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.


Notes to Editors

  • In the UK, Aegon offers retirement, workplace savings and protection solutions to well over three million customers and employs approximately 3,450 staff. More information: aegon.co.uk
  • As an international life insurance, pensions and asset management group based in The Hague, Aegon has businesses in over twenty five markets in the Americas, Europe and Asia. Aegon companies employ over 28,000 people and have millions of customers across the globe. Further information: aegon.com

*Figures correct as of January 2019

Aegon is a brand name of Scottish Equitable plc. Scottish Equitable plc, registered office: Edinburgh Park, Edinburgh EH12 9SE. Registered in Scotland (No. 144517). Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Financial Services Register number 165548. An Aegon company. www.aegon.co.uk                                                                        

© 2019 Aegon UK plc.