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Social revolution underway as millions more over 50s keep working

28 July, 2016

  • Important new Statistical Series released today to track trends in later life working
  • Massive increase in labour force participation for over 50s since the 1980s
  • Older women show largest employment rise while proportion age 70-74 in work has doubled
  • Rise in female participation pre-dates increase in state pension age

There is a social revolution underway, which can benefit millions of people in the UK, which is seeing increasing numbers of over 50s stay in work, continuing to increase their lifetime income, improving the productive potential of the economy and in many cases ensuring a better quality of life.  As older men and women realise it is not beneficial to aspire to retire when still relatively young, the trends in employment among people over age 50 are striking.

The DWP has today released figures that will form a brand new data set for the future.  They will track the trends in later life working and help us monitor how the world of work is developing for the over 50s.  The new statistical series shows changes in employment trends for women and men since the 1980s.

Following my role as the Government’s Business Champion for Older Workers and Pensions Minister, I have instigated continued statistical analysis of employment trends and engagement with business to help more people and employers benefit from the skills and experience of the more mature workforce that is on offer with an aging population.  The statistics released today demonstrate the historical trends that have seen sharp increases in number of over 50s staying in work.

This is all part of a much wider exercise in encouraging people to keep working, if they can and if they want or need to, and encouraging employers to recognise the enormous value that older workers offer to their businesses.

People are not necessarily ‘old’, in a conventional sense, at age 50, 60 or 70 and are increasingly choosing to keep working.  This can be good news for them, good for their employer and the economy too.  It will boost their lifetime income and can also be better for their health and general wellbeing.

Of course, it is also true that some people cannot work longer, or feel forced to go on when they would rather stop, but this is the minority.  Surveys that were part of my Business Champion for Older Workers report ‘A new vision for older workers – Retain Retrain Recruit’ showed that most people in their fifties want to keep working past their state pension age.

In 21st Century Britain, after all the successes in healthcare and working conditions, it makes sense to celebrate the increased employment of older people and to take advantage of the skills and talents of our aging population.

1 comment

1 Ruth { 07.29.16 at 11:53 am }

Of course, it is also true that some people cannot work longer, or feel forced to go on when they would rather stop, but this is the minority’ …… Obviously the surveys have not included the 1950s women hit by 2 state pension age rises, the second at far too short notice! The women who started work at 15/16 long before the equalisation of wages with men. They had no chance to save for a private pension so are forced to work until they drop or to beg for benefits if they lose their job. Many women in our group ‘Protest Against the 2011 Accelerated State Pension Age increase’ are alone, widowed or single, they are desperate! Some have long standing illnesses, some have worsening painful age related complaints and have to take pain medication to get through their days work. The mental part of keeping up with today’s ever changing world is causing them stress and depression, even suicidal feelings! Those without jobs are being harassed and treated like layabouts by Job Centres, sent on humiliating courses with no chance of a job at 60+ when there are so many unemployed fit people needing work. Yes let those who are fit enough to work keep on working as long as they want to (or can) but don’t include the robbed 60+ women who want nothing more than the end to their struggles, in sight at last!

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