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Workers across Europe don't want their national retirement age to be raised


The lure of retirement is simply too much for many Europeans, with almost one in three workers saying they would prefer their government not to raise the national retirement age and they would be happy to have less income in retirement, according to Aon Consulting.

The research is part of the Aon Consulting European Employee Benefits Benchmark, which surveyed 7,279 workers across Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and the UK - 10 of the leading economies in Europe.

The Benchmark revealed 46% of Irish workers, the most of any European nation surveyed, say they never really expected to retire at 65 and expected to be working longer than their parents. This is closely followed by the British and Danish (44%) and the Dutch (41%).

Many governments around the world have raised, or are in the process of raising, the minimum retirement age in their country to help pay for the pensions and healthcare of a rapidly-ageing population.

By 2050, more than 25% of the population in OECD countries will be 65 years old or older, compared with slightly less than 15% today.

German workers are the most pragmatic about the situation, with nearly half (49%) saying they will take advantage of financial products on the open market, such as annuities, at their own expense in order to be able to retire at the age they had originally planned.

On the other hand, a clutch of other countries, including Germany, Spain, Switzerland and Belgium, showed a much lower tolerance towards working longer. The Spanish are the most reluctant to retire later, with just 18% saying they have accepted this position.

On average, over a quarter of Europeans accept that while they may have to work longer due to government policy, they will take responsibility for their own financial situation by purchasing financial tools such as an annuity.

Across Europe, people displayed a very high awareness of the minimum state retirement age, with an overall average of nine in 10 Europeans saying it was an issue in their country.

Oliver Rowlands, head of retirement, EMEA, at Aon Consulting, said: "The turbulent economic environment of the past few years has really forced people and governments to take stock, look at their and their nation's retirement plans and evaluate whether they will be ready for an ageing population.

"In the UK, for example, the massive fluctuations in equity markets mean that workers with defined-contribution pension arrangements are still not back to the same levels of savings before the financial crisis began.

"Europeans are living longer and more productive lives than previous generations, so it is no longer a given that people should retire in their early sixties. European employers should be aware that older workers bring a wealth of experience and may want to adopt a strategy for accommodating part-time working or job-sharing, for example.

"But employers need to do more than this if they are going to grapple with an ageing workforce. Health and wellness initiatives such as employee assistance lines (a service for employees offering free counselling and professional advisory services), flexible benefits, occupational health initiatives and flexible working days, are all ways of helping to ensure the health and welfare of an ageing staff."