It is official – Australians are working longer, according to a large scale survey about retirement conducted by the ABS.
The Bureau of Statistics found that the average retirement age was just 53.8 years to 58.5 for men, and 50 for women.
However, the average retirement age for those who retired within the past five years was 61.5 to 63.3 for men and 59.6 for women.
The bureau warns that the figures for average retirement age are likely to be skewed lower by excluding those who retired but have since died, and were therefore not included in the survey.
“For example, based on Australian life expectancy, a person who retired aged 40 years in 1988 (who would be aged 65 years in 2013) would more likely be alive to participate in this survey than a person who retired aged 65 years in 1988 (aged 90 years in 2013),” the ABS noted in the report.
However, the upward trend in retirement ages is confirmed in the figures measuring the expectations of those aged 45 and older – around two-thirds intend to retire at or over 65 years of age, with 17 per cent expecting to work until they are 70 or older.
A quarter of workers expect to finish work between 60 and 64 years of age, while only 9 per cent expect to retire before they are 60.
If those intentions match reality, the average retirement age will creep up to 63.4 years, with the gender gap also narrowing (men expect to retire at 63.8 years and women at 63).
Pension less important
There is also a radical shift underway in how people expect to fund their retirement.
Currently, just over 50 per cent of men and 42 per cent of women list Government pensions as their main source of income at retirement, with 44 per cent of women listing partner’s income as their main financial support.
Only a quarter of men and 10 per cent of women currently list superannuation as their primary source of retirement income.
In contrast, nearly half of people surveyed who were planning their retirement expected to rely on superannuation as their main source of income, with only 27 per cent expecting to rely primarily on the pension.
It is perhaps not surprising then that 39 per cent of men and 36 per cent of women listed financial security as the main factor influencing their decision about when to retire.
Personal health and physical abilities were the primary considerations for 23 per cent of both men and women, while reaching eligibility age for the pension was a factor for only 13 per cent of men and 11 per cent of women.