One in three (31%) Generation X members (those born between 1965 and 1980) do not feel confident they will be able to work for as long as they need to fund their retirement needs, due to concerns around health and age.
With 57% of Gen Xers wanting to save more for retirement but struggling to do so, a quarter (25%) plan to work part-time past the state pension age (SPA) to plug an expected income short-fall in retirement, while 17% plan to work full-time. However, they have serious concerns about whether they will be able to continue working later in life.
The findings, which, are contained in Slipping between the cracks, a report from the International Longevity Centre and supported by Standard Life, part of Phoenix Group1. They show why many people in Generation X continue to be “Generation Vexed”.
Barriers to working for longer
As many as 37% of all Gen Xers plan to work later in life to boost their retirement income, while for 25% this is their only plan. However, they have several concerns they fear will constrain their ability to do this:
- 59% are worried poor physical health will restrict their ability to work
- 31% are concerned poor mental health will impact them
- 31% fear age discrimination will restrict their ability to retain or find another job
- Other concerns include not having the right skills to adapt to the changing job market (19%) and a fear the economic impact of the pandemic will make it harder to remain in work (17%)
These concerns are perhaps understandable, especially as 36% of all Gen Xers, and one in three (33%) of those whose only plan for retirement is to work longer, also have a health problem or a disability.
Meanwhile, almost two-thirds (62%) of those who plan to work past the SPA to address an income shortfall in retirement are confident they’ll be able to do so – but they may find this is not always possible as a quarter (25%) of this group currently have a health problem or disability, and some (7%) expect to provide care to an adult in the next five years.
Andy Curran, CEO of Standard Life, part of Phoenix Group, said: “Many Gen-Xers feel they’ll never retire and expect to continue working to have an income in later life. Others want to work but fear discrimination or face health barriers. With many Gen Xers facing a challenging financial future, we believe that society and employers need to wake-up to the talent and experience of Gen X, and do more to support them.
“Gen-Xers bring a wealth of diversity and expertise to the workforce and they should be celebrated and accommodated, not marginalised or face poverty in their later years.
“Flexible working and lifelong learning can help employees continue to stay in the workforce and save for longer while access to financial learning and wellbeing programmes can also help ensure everyone is equipped with the knowledge they need for later in life.”
Sophia Dimitriadis, Research Fellow at ILC and report author added: “With nearly 4 in 10 Gen Xers relying on working for longer to plug an income shortfall in retirement, it’s vital that we support them to do so. Providing more support to workers in poor health will likely make the biggest difference – followed by tackling age discrimination.
“Policy-makers need to make all jobs flexible by default so that employees can alter their work patterns to suit their needs (including health needs) and increase the awareness and use of Government Access to Work funds among workers with acquired disabilities.
“Government can also make it easier for employees to challenge age discrimination at work by allowing tribunals to consider cases of multiple types of discrimination. Finally, policy-makers need to offer workers aged 40+ targeted back-to-work support to ensure they aren’t left behind during the pandemic. This is especially important given that older unemployed workers are the most likely to leave the labour market for good.”