Working Better


The Over 50's, the new work generation

There is an ageing population that has led policy-makers to put a high priority on extending working life. However, little attention has been paid to creating the conditions to enable people to work beyond retirement age.

This report is a survey of the work aspirations of the over 50s, and the barriers facing them. It reveals that many assumptions made about this age group are wrong:


  • The majority of workers over 50 (62 per cent of women and 59 per cent of men) want to continue working beyond state pension age.
  • More than twice as many (11 per cent) over 50s want promotion as want to downshift (4 per cent).
  • Instead of being unfit to work due to ageing and ill health, 62 per cent describe themselves as feeling as fit as ever, with structural and attitudinal barriers thwarting their ability to stay involved. n Enthusiasm for learning persists: 44 per cent of 56-59 year-olds and a third of 60-64 year-olds have undertaken training in the past three years. 21 per cent of the over 50s had trained to improve their job prospects.
  • Responsibility for children continues, with nearly one-quarter of 56-59 year-olds and 9 per cent of 70-75 year-olds still supporting their children financially.
  • Working longer is not a burden borne purely out of necessity: those who have elected to work longer are happy and enjoying what they do.
  • There is significant demand for greater flexibility in hours and location of work. Sixty-eight per cent of the over 50s unemployed below state pension age and 85 per cent of people inactive and over state pension age said that greater availability of flexible and part-time work would help them to find jobs.


Read this report produced by Alison Maitland with the help of the Equality and Human Rights Commission Working Better team. Images by Andy Whitehead Photography and iStockphoto.

Working Better