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




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Catherine Comben

UK Insurance Media Relations

Notes to editors:


  • Aviva provides life insurance, general insurance, health insurance and asset management to 33 million customers.
  • In the UK we are the leading insurer serving one in every four households and have strong businesses in selected markets in Europe, Asia and Canada. Our shares are listed on the London Stock Exchange and we are a member of the FTSE 100 index.  
  • Aviva’s asset management business, Aviva Investors, provides asset management services to both Aviva and external clients, and manages over £346 billion in assets (as at 30 June 2019). Total group assets under management at Aviva group are £501 billion (as at 30 June 2019).
  • Aviva helps people save for the future and manage the risks of everyday life; in 2018 we paid £32.9 billion in claims and benefits on behalf of our 33 million customers.
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