Changes in pension and employment policies are making it increasingly necessary for older people in the UK to work beyond the age of 65. However, new research from the University of Surrey finds significant differences in the likelihood of employment and income levels of people beyond 65, depending on their gender and health.
Years of healthy life expectancy and the likelihood of disability in older age vary significantly, and as a result particular groups are going to find it hard to keep working beyond 65 and are more likely to be disadvantaged by a rise in the state pension age, than others.
The findings, due to be presented by Professor Sara Arber at the fourth annual Alf Adams Lecture, are based on data from interviews with over 11,000 men and women aged between 60 and 79 (source: Understanding Society Survey, University of Essex). Key findings are that:
- The income gap between men and women in later life is substantial: men's income is 70% higher than women's. For women, caring for children and families throughout their life often leads to lower pensions, high levels of poverty and lack of health resources in later life.
"Our results show that policies to increase employment in later life may be leading to a cumulation of advantage and disadvantage," said lead researcher Professor Sara Arber from the University of Surrey.
"The older population is growing in number and becoming more diverse every day. Not all pensioners are equal. A common misconception nowadays is that all older people are fit, healthy and able to keep working beyond 65, but this is not true and is heavily dependent on gender, class and wealth. It is essential that these factors are taken into account when considering access to pensions, as some groups may need pensions earlier than others. We need to address income inequality which may be compounded by continued working in later life, as well as ageism that is still prevalent among many employers."