20 million UK adults worried about the prospect of a longer working life

  • 61% of UK adults are worried about the prospect of longer working lives.
  • This comes as government data shows the population of workers aged over 50 has reached an all-time high.
  • However, drop in employment of those aged 50+ suggests more needs to be done to support this population of the workforce.

New research from Aviva has found that 61% of UK adults are worried about the prospect of a longer working life1. This equates to 20 million working people in the UK2. This research comes as official figures report a record number (10.6m) of workers over the age of 50 – a rise of 32% (2.6m) over the past decade.3

Fall in employment as workers progress through their 50s

While the population of employees working beyond 50 is growing, the UK is witnessing a continuing fall in employment participation as workers progress through their 50s. In the age group 35-49, nearly nine-in-ten adults (85%) are active in the labour market. This drops to nearer five-in-ten (56%) by the time we reach the 60-64 age group. Some of this population may have chosen to retire early, but many will have not.

This comes at a time when the state pension age is rising above age 65. Representing the largest single source of income in retirement (43%) for the average pensioner,4 the state pension age will determine many peoples’ target retirement date.

Employers need to take action to ensure those employees that want to continue working through their 50s and 60s feel supported to do so.

Commenting, Alistair McQueen, Head of Savings & Retirement at Aviva said:

“Twenty million workers worrying about a longer working life is not good for the individual, nor UK plc.

“For UK plc, this loss of participation represents a huge loss of talent, skill, expertise and experience. For the UK to thrive, we must capitalise on the talents of all, regardless of age.

“As the state pension age rises, millions of workers will seek to keep working through their fifties and beyond. But the continuing fall in employment participation as we age suggests many are struggling in this endeavour. For individuals, this represents a loss of earning capacity which will negatively impact their income in retirement. 

“Aviva has introduced Mid-Life MOTs for our people aged 45-and-above to ensure this population feels supported and prepared. These sessions provide our growing population of mid-life employees with targeted guidance on how to manage their wealth, work and wellbeing, with early results encouragingly showing improved confidence among our mid-life employees. At Aviva, we are committed to ensuring that age is no barrier to opportunity.”

- ENDS -


Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

1. Representative survey of 2,003 UK adults, via Censuswide during w/c 9 September 2019




Instinctif Partners: 020 7457 2020

Media enquiries:

Catherine Comben

UK Insurance Media Relations

Notes to editors:

  • For information on how Aviva is helping our people, customers and communities impacted by COVID-19 visit: 
  • Aviva is a leading international savings, retirement and insurance business. We exist to be with people when it really matters, throughout their lives – to help them make the most of life. We have been taking care of people for more than 320 years, in line with our purpose of being ‘with you today, for a better tomorrow’.
  • Our vision is to earn our customers’ trust as the best place to save for the future, navigate retirement and insure what matters most to them. In 2019, we paid £33.2 billion in claims and benefits on behalf of our 33.4 million customers.
  • We will focus on the UK, Ireland and Canada where we have leading market positions and significant potential. We will invest for growth in these markets. Our International businesses in Europe and Asia will be managed for long-term shareholder value. We will also transform our performance and improve our efficiency. Our transformation will be underpinned by managing our balance sheet prudently, reducing debt and increasing our financial resilience.
  • Total group assets under management at Aviva group are £522 billion and our Solvency II capital surplus is £12.0 billion (HY20). Our shares are listed on the London Stock Exchange and we are a member of the FTSE 100 index.
  • For more details on what we do, our business and how we help our customers, visit 
  • The Aviva newsroom at includes links to our image library, research reports and our news release archive. Sign up to get the latest news from Aviva by email.
  • You can follow us on Twitter:  
  • You can follow us on LinkedIn: 
  • For the latest corporate films from around our business, subscribe to our YouTube channel: 
  • We have a Globelynx system for broadcast interviews. Please contact the Press Officer noted above if you would like to make a booking.

More from our Newsroom