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European comparison on pension access and later life working

by on September 9, 2014

How do European countries compare in terms of (a) when people access their pensions and (b) what percentage work when aged between 65 and 69? And are these two matters related?

This article in The Telegraph reports data from the European Commission on these issues. The piece kicks off with the statement ‘Britons take their pensions earlier than workers in other EU countries – but also work later into old age’. This seems to imply a causal relationship between the two findings, justifying the article’s headline: ‘We take pensions earliest in Europe – then carry on working’. This suggests that there is something not quite right about this state of affairs.

But read on and you’ll see that Norway, cited in the article as the country which accesses its pensions latest (at age 65 compared to Britain’s age 58), is also the country with the largest proportion of people aged 65 to 69 in work (26% compared to Britain’s 19%). As pointed out, we don’t know from these figures why people work in later life – the article suggests it’s a ‘choice v necessity’ binary though I imagine it’s more complex for many people.

So what is the point of this piece? Is the clue in the conclusion drawn that these ‘official figures suggested that British savers were making poor choices about using funds set aside for old age’? Because the rest of the article is taken up with contributions from various pensions and financial advisers. This prompts one reader to comment: ‘I may be sceptical, but these articles are primarily here as anchors to advertising for the pensions industry’.

I’m sure there is some interesting analysis to be done with these figures but I don’t think that’s what we’ve got here.

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