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Working longer – and longer: target to increase average retirement age

by on October 7, 2014

There was extensive coverage in the media yesterday of Pensions Minister Steve Webb’s pronouncement that Britons need to accept dramatically longer working lives. Apparently this could mean pushing average retirement age up by 6 months every year in order to avoid a health care funding crisis.

The statement has been misunderstood by some readers, if the comments are anything to go by, with some believing that this means their own retirement age (as opposed to the national average) has to go up by 6 months every year.

As reported here in The Telegraph his announcement is framed as a “catching up” exercise, drawing on longer life expectancy, and as achievable by reference to increases in average retirement age for women over recent years.

But there is a big difference between life expectancy and healthy life expectancy which is very relevant to the ability to work and where there are striking differences between occupational and geographical groups. And the issue of women’s retirement is the result of a very specific initiative to iron out the gender difference that used to exist in State Pension Age. So I’m not sure these are valid factors to draw on to sell this idea.

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