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Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing

MICRA Director Debbie Price speaks on older workers, unretirement and a world without retirement.

13 March 2018

The Centre for Ageing Better recently released a new report highlighting that the UK's population is getting older and calling for greater equality and opportunities for over 50s in the workplace.

MICRA Director Debbie Price has undertaken recent research in collaboration with King’s College London and University College London on this topic of working up to and beyond State Pension Age.

The Centre for Ageing Better report calls for government and employers to support older workers to stay in employment for longer, help those who have fallen out of work involuntarily to return and to create workplaces that work for all, irrespective of age.

Debbie spoke of her research in this area both at the recent AMBS Vital Topics: A World Without Retirement event and also a BBC Radio London interview for a feature on the release of the report. Their research discovered that people who work beyond state pension age can suffer a detrimental effect on their quality of life if they are working because they need the money rather than for reasons of positive choice. This supplements a growing body of work that shows that working in poor quality jobs is bad for your health at these ages, which has implications for public policy as some of our extending working life policies may be worsening the health of already disadvantaged people in later life. Indeed, the recently released report finds that low and middle earners are the most likely to have to work beyond state pension age, often because of financial necessity. 1.8m older lower and middle-income households will struggle to save for retirement. These people are also more likely to work in jobs which impose high physical demands and/or limited control over their working environment - conditions which are detrimental to their longer term health and wellbeing

The Centre for Ageing Better report also highlights gender inequalities: women are more likely to have taken time out from work than men, often to provide childcare. Which affects their career prospects and life time earning potential. Debbie and colleagues research corresponds with these findings, as Debbie states: “We also found, in one of our more controversial papers, that if women try to combine bringing up children with paid work, then when we assess their health in their 60s, controlling for a host of other factors, they have worse health in terms of frailty, morbidity and even mortality, and that women who take on these roles sequentially fare much better.”

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