Over 50s leaving work early could hit retirement plans…and cost the UK economy £88 BILLION

Tom Selby
26 August 2021

•    People leaving the workforce between age 50 and state pension age could wipe £88 BILLION from the economy, the ONS warns (Living longer: impact of working from home on older workers - Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk))
o    If the employment rate among 50 to 64-year-olds was similar to those aged 35 to 49 years, it could add 5% to GDP or £88 billion
•    Women are much more likely to be economically inactive before state pension age than men
o    At age 50 years, 17.9% of women were economically inactive compared with 9.6% of men
o    At age 64 years, 58.6% of women were economically inactive compared to 44.9% of men
•    Worryingly, both men and women who are economically inactive between age 50 and state pension age are less likely to report “good” or “very good” health than those who are employed or unemployed

Tom Selby, head of retirement policy at AJ Bell, comments: 

“The early exit of people aged between 50 and state pension age from the workforce has a significant impact on both individual retirement plans and the wider economy. In fact, it could be costing the UK as a whole as much as £88 billion.

“While in some cases stopping work early will be a voluntary decision – for example as a result of early retirement – in other situations it will be less voluntary, such as ill-health. 

“Worryingly, although perhaps not surprisingly, people who work in low-paying or physically intensive sectors are six times more likely to stop working before state pension age because of ill-health than those working in other professions. 

“What’s more, women are more likely to stop working early than men, potentially further perpetuating the gap in pensions between the sexes.

“Stopping working in your 50s – when in theory your earning power and ability to save should be at its highest – could also have a significant impact people’s retirement outcomes. 

“In many cases it will mean making your retirement income stretch for much longer, meaning you have to live for less in your later years.

“It also potentially impacts on people’s health and wellbeing. For all those reasons, supporting people in their 50s to stay in work for longer should be an absolute priority for policymakers.”

Tom Selby
Head of Retirement Policy

Tom Selby is a multi-award-winning former financial journalist, specialising in pensions and retirement issues. He spent almost six years at a leading adviser trade magazine, initially as Pensions Reporter before becoming Head of News in 2014. Tom joined AJ Bell as Senior Analyst in April 2016. He has a degree in Economics from Newcastle University.

Contact details

Mobile: 07702 858 234
Email: tom.selby@ajbell.co.uk

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