ProAge is a member-led, UK charity whose mission is to promote age inclusion in the workplace, so that workers of all ages can thrive and older workers have the opportunities they need to choose when and how they retire.
The Case for Age Inclusion
In the United Kingdom, we have added 10 years in longevity in the past 60 years. We have added these years to the end of our lives. And, to use the metaphor of life as a journey, we have added 10 miles to the end of the road without changing any of the signposts, traffic lights and speed bumps delineating where we start and stop things in our lives like education work and retirement.
Knowing that we are adding 10 years to the phase of our lives when we are likely to be retired or economically inactive, we need to reimagine our relationship between work and other aspects of our lives. We need to think about how we save for a longer life and what each of the social partners, governments, employers and individuals if we are to maintain solidary in our social contract.
Source: OECD (2023), Life expectancy at birth (indicator)
Not only are people living longer but falling birth rates over recent decades have also had a significant impact on another demographic indicator, the old age dependency ratio. This is defined as the number of individuals aged 65 and over per 100 people of working age (20-64 years old). In 2000, the UK had 22.5 people aged over 65 for every 100 workers. OECD predictions show that number increasing to over 58 by 2070. This means that there will be fewer than two workers supporting every person over 65, compared with just over four at the beginning of the century.
We have grown up in a society with a strong social contract where government, employers, and individuals have worked hard to make sure that we support and provide for each other at times in our lives when we are unable to work. We need to act to preserve the financial sustainability of our pension system so that we and future generations can look achieving financial security as we get older.
The good news is that we are living healthier and more active lives. Work is an important part of our identity. It helps us maintain social contact and keep our brains active. It also provides us with the opportunity to earn money and maintain our economic independence.
Finding ways for us to continue working in meaningful employment that is appropriate to our capabilities and goals, is essential if we are to maintain our social contract:
From the government perspective, helping people to work longer will maintain the financial sustainability of our pension system by increasing the tax base and changing when and how people access benefits.
Employers will benefit from high performing multigenerational teams and access to a greater pool of workers who bring a lifetime of work experience.
Individuals will maintain their economic independence, social connections, and sense of purpose.
Join us in creating an age inclusive workplace where society, employers, and individuals all benefit.