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Better health means 70 is the new 65, says government report

A new report from the Office for National Statistics says that as people are living longer we need to rethink the retirement age

The marker for the start of older age in the UK has traditionally been 65, most likely because it was the official retirement age for men and when they could draw their state pension.

However, a new report from the Office for National Statistics says that because of improving health and life expectancy this is looking increasingly “out of date”.

“There is no longer an official retirement age, state pension age is rising, and increasing numbers of people work past the age of 65 years,” the report says.

As people are living longer and healthier lives the report suggests it is time rethink old age and asks whether 70 is the new 65.

The number of people aged over 65 has grown from 5.3 million people, or 10.8% of the population, in 1950, to 11.9 million, or 18% of the total population, in 2018.

By 2050, there are projected to be 17.7 million people aged 65 years and over, or 24.8% of the population.

The ONS says that as people are living longer they can continue to contribute more to society through retiring later, volunteering, and providing care for family members.

The report suggests that rather than shifting the start of older age from 65 to 70, we should instead think of aging in terms of remaining life expectancy of around 15 years.

Using this system would mean that that old age started at 70 for men and 72 for women. By 2066 it will be 75 for men and 77 for women.

The report says: “Our findings indicate that health status by chronological age has improved over time while health status at prospective ages shows more stability.

“This means that measuring population ageing in terms of the proportion of people in the population of a set chronological age may not be the most appropriate measure to use when considering the health of our ageing population. Prospective measures, based on years of life remaining, may provide a more consistent indication and as such may be a more appropriate measure to use when planning for current and future health and social care needs and demand.”

The age when people start old age and retire has implications for a range of social policies, including health care and pensions.

The state pension age is rising, having previously been 60 for women and 65 for men.

The current state pension age for men and women is 65 and in 2020 will rise to 66. The state pension age is then due to increase to 67 by 2028 and 68 by 2039.

The report will add to fears that the state pension age could rise even further.

Earlier this year, a Conservative think tank led by former Conservative party leader Iain Duncan Smith proposed the state pension age should rise to 70 by 2028 and 75 by 2035 because people are living longer.

Maike Currie, director for workplace investing at Fidelity International, says: “So-called retirees are now healthier, living longer, and retiring at different ages. We’re seeing a growing trend of people planning to continue working after they have retired, defying traditional expectations. 70 isn’t just the new 65, in reality it’s the new 40.

“As baby boomers reach their 60s, their approach to their working lives will transform the world of work and retirement as we know it. And how we plan our retirements will need to reflect this new reality. Longevity means that part of life is longer, but that retirement might be phased and that should remain a choice, rather than a necessity. The solution lies in having a plan and knowing the amount you need to put away each month to fund plans, and cover your lifestyle needs throughout your life.”