The U.S. may be a global leader in many things, but retirement isn’t one of them.
That’s among the findings in an Aegon Center for Longevity and Retirement report titled “The New Flexible Retirement,” which examined ways in which retirement is changing globally in response to longer lifespans and the changing ways in which workers envision their retirement.
Globally, the report said, 51 percent of all workers now expect to retire at age 65 or later, or not at all.
In addition, 55 percent of workers age 55 and older are contemplating a exible transition into retirement; among younger workers, the percentage is even higher.
While in Spain 44 percent of workers expect to retire the year they turn 65, pension changes enacted in 2011 and phasing in between 2013 and 2027 mean that they’ll eventually be working till age 67.
In China, women’s official retirement age is 50, while men’s is 60, although that too is likely to change as the government plans to increase both.
And in Japan, 43 percent of workers intend to stay on the job past retirement — but in France just 15 percent intend to prolong their careers. But in Japan, employers have been legally required since 2013 to adopt a policy that encourages workers to keep working.
That doesn’t mean, of course, that employers anywhere are jumping on the bandwagon to encourage this, or even allow it, even when cultural expectations or laws favor it.
While some value older workers’ expertise, judgment, experience, institutional knowledge, and interpersonal skills, other employers may simply see them as more expensive and/or less productive. Results, as might be expected, vary widely from country to country, but despite government measures, efforts among employers largely lag behind.
Australia supports flexible retirement with a number of measures that help older workers to stay in the workplace. Not only can they earn substantial income while drawing their Age Pensions, there are favorable tax measures for those who continue to work.
The government is so supportive of flexible retirement that 70 percent of workers — the second highest number in the report; only India came in higher, at 79 percent — plan to pursue a flexible retirement.
Still, more support comes from the government than from employers, although the country does exceed the global percentages of employers offering retraining (12 percent compared with a global rate of 9 percent) or a move from full-time to part-time work (38 percent, compared to a global rate of 27 percent).
In contrast, just 4 percent of U.S. employers provide retraining, and 25 percent allow a move from full- to part-time work — both under the global rate.
But despite a 2012 law that was aimed at phasing in retirement, very few government agencies have chosen to make the program available to their employees.