Friday, 14 March 2014

Working till you drop?

If you suffer from bad health in later years, then earning your living into ripe old age becomes a tricky proposition.

The government has accelerated the timetable for pushing up pension age, with a pension age of 68 now set to be implemented in the mid-2030s.

One thing that really matters is whether people are actually able to work that long. Figures today from the Office for National Statistics provide an insight into how serious the challenge might be for some people.

The stats show how the time you can expect to live in good health varies from place to to place - it's called healthy life expectancy.

Men in affluent areas can expect to live to 82.7 years, with 70.5 of those in good health.

But in deprived areas life expectancy is 73.4 years and healthy life expectancy is just 52.1 years.

Women live longer. The situation for women in affluent areas is that life expectancy is 85.7, with 71.5 years in good health.

But there is a wide gap in the most deprived areas: there women can expect to live to 78.9, but healthy life expectancy is only 52.5.

So a woman in a deprived area might live a long life but suffer 26 years of poor health.

Compare all those numbers to the path the government plans for pension age for both men and women: 66 in 2020, 67 in 2026-8, 68 in the mid-2030s.

After that 69 is likely to be introduced in the 2040s and 70 will come soon after that.

Does that make sense if people might struggle physically to continue in work?

Well, the whole point of the changes to pension age is cope with the consequences of life expectancy continuing to grow coming decades.

But clearly there is a need to improve the health of people in deprived areas to make it more likely that they can work longer and live to draw their pensions.

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