Older People Still Working Are A ‘Boost To The UK Economy’

The UK’s ageing population is providing a multi-billion pound boost to the country’s economy each year as older people work later in life, a  report has revealed.

People aged between 60 and 80 contribute more than £59 billion annually to the UK economy in taxes, volunteer work and family care, according to the largest study of older people ever undertaken.

HSBC’s Future of Retirement study – which is based on the interviews of 21,000 people in 21 countries – found that across the globe, large numbers of over-60s are staying in employment.

Those in their 60s and 70s generally feel in good health enabling them to stay in the work environment for longer than before. There are only small differences between people in their 60s and 70s and those 20 years younger in terms of control and quality of life, according to the compilers of the report. This has allowed between a fifth and half of over-60s in the developed world to remain in work, with large numbers still active in employment in transitional economies.

In the UK, people over the age of 60 contribute 792 million voluntary hours per year, which at the minimum wage of £5.35 an hour equates to a total saving of £4.2 billion in the third sector. In addition the state takes an estimated £5.5 billion each year in taxes from people aged between 60 and 80. But by far the largest contribution, at least in terms of monetary value, is through family care. More than £50 billion worth of caring support is undertaken by UK retirees every year.

Stephen Green, group chairman of HSBC, said: “We are living longer and, in many societies, living better than ever. This should be a cause for celebration, but recognition of this achievement is too often buried beneath concern over the funding of retirement.”

Globally, more older people provide financial, practical and in some cases personal care than receive it, according to the report. Of those providing financial support, 16 per cent of those in their 60s and nearly one-third of those in their 70s provide financial support to grandchildren.

Professor Sarah Harper, director of Oxford Institute of Ageing which conducted the study with HSBC, said: “The research revealed that older people make a substantial contribution to the family in financial, practical and personal care and support. The value of this social care and support within the family is enormous at around three per cent of GDP in the UK alone.”

David Sinclair, head of policy at Help the Aged, said: “This report shows many older people are leading full, active lives and that pensioners are increasingly becoming aware of their contribution to society. That’s fantastic. But for large numbers of older people in the UK the reality is still quite different. Many UK pensioners face barriers to an active lifestyle – ageist attitudes, badly thought out transport planning and an increase in public toilet closures.”