The Future of Retirement II: What the World Wants
Building on the success of the Future of Retirement Study completed in 2005, Age Wave and HSBC collaborated in 2006 to expand the results of the study, both geographically and in the demographics of the people interviewed. This was the largest global survey into attitudes toward aging and retirement ever conducted. The study surveyed 21,000 people and 6,000 companies in 20 countries and territories and revealed some surprising new findings in a variety of focus areas, including:
- Retirement is being redefined. Rather than a time to “disappear” or “withdraw,” the new definition of retirement is to remain active and engaged. In the HSBC Future of Retirement: What the World Wants survey, few participants said they associate retirement with “the beginning of the end.” Instead, increasing numbers of people view retirement as a continuation of what life was or even as an opportunity for a new chapter in life, and, overwhelmingly, people have positive views of retirement. This shift in attitude reflects a global redefinition of retirement from a period of “rest” in the 1940s and 1950s, to “reward” in the 1970s to a “right” by the 1980s, to an entirely new model of “reinvention” today.
- There is more than one key to happiness in later life. All around the world, respondents said that family, friends, and fitness define the quality of later life, not necessarily money. But the definition of happiness does vary somewhat from country to country. In some regions, staying young at heart is viewed as the key to happiness, while for others having a strong religious faith is a priority. Moreover, we have found—surprisingly—that elders worldwide are less fearful and more optimistic than their younger cohorts about the potential of later life.
- The value of older workers must not be overlooked. Over the past several decades, labor force participation among those age 60 and over has substantially lessened. In an era of declining fertility rates and global population aging, companies will have to find new ways to tap into the resource of older workers in order to remain competitive. In fact, the HSBC Future of Retirement survey results reveal that older workers are actually valued as more reliable and loyal and just as productive and motivated as younger workers. Moreover, both employers and employees around the world reject mandatory retirement based on age.
- Employers must adapt and provide new flexibilities. People in almost every country would prefer to keep working in some fashion during retirement. However, this rarely means working full-time at the same job. Instead, people are looking for flexible arrangements, such as part-time work or even alternating between periods of work and leisure in later life. Moreover, for many, nonmonetary rewards—such as stimulating work, the ability to continue learning, or the opportunity to teach younger workers—are often viewed as more important than financial compensation. Nonetheless, many companies do not offer the flexibility or nonfinancial rewards older workers are seeking. Our research and studies have identified pioneering, effective programs and strategies to attract, retain, and motivate an ageing workforce, including phased retirement, part-time work, bridge careers, retraining, sabbaticals, and mentoring programs.
- Who will pay for the costs of increasing longevity? While there will certainly be continued reliance on family, employers, and governments, the majority of people around the world are recognizing they will need to take more personal responsibility for planning and preparing for their financial needs and goals in their retirement years. However, though individuals want to be self-sufficient in their retirement years, they also want governments to do more to help them help themselves. When given the choice, respondents in almost every country chose enforcement of additional private savings over other options to help finance and support aging populations, such as increasing retirement age, reducing pensions, and raising taxes.