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Preparation and planning key to better retirement outcomes

The impact of retirement on the lives of older adults is the focus of the latest wave of research from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) supported by Irish Life.

The TILDA Irish Adults Transition to Retirement report, launched this week, examines retirement patterns in Ireland and the relationship between retirement and wellbeing, social participation, and health-related behaviours. The level to which individuals have planned for retirement, the nature of their retirement, and financial security post-retirement were identified as key factors in having a positive transition to life after work.

TILDA has collected detailed survey and health assessment data from adults aged 50 years and older in the Republic of Ireland every two years since 2009, including comprehensive information on participants’ employment status and their transition to retirement. The TILDA report found that retirement doesn’t come as standard. It is often framed as simply an age-related event when in fact it is a much more complex process that can happen at different ages, for different reasons, and in different contexts.

The research shows that individuals who do not know at what age they hope to retire, often face more uncertainty in their future jobs and are also more likely to have experienced a variable or insecure employment history. Research participants who reported that they did not know when they planned to retire are likely to differ from those who are planning their retirement in terms of both their employment histories and futures.

Almost a quarter of participants reported that they had no plans to retire while a further 14% did not know when they would retire. Of those with no plans to retire, 60% had no private pension in place. On average, women planned to retire earlier than men while men were significantly more likely than women to say that they have no plans to retire.

The TILDA research shows that 65 to 67 years of age is the most popular planned age at which to retire among men and women working in both the public and private sectors. The benefit of having financial planning in place is evidenced by those planning to retire at an earlier age being significantly more likely to be a member of an occupational pension scheme.

Among survey participants who had already retired, over half retired when they became eligible for a pension (state, occupational, or private), while one-third retired for other reasons such as spending time with family or enjoying life. The remainder retired due to ill-health (5%) or were made redundant (4.5%). Becoming eligible for a pension was the biggest driver of retirement among participants who had planned for retirement while for those who had no defined retirement plans in place, ill-health is the main reason for people having to leave paid employment.

David Harney, CEO, Irish Life Group said: “Irish Life is proud to be supporting TILDA and conveying the message that retirement can be a very positive life-stage. Each year we see the average life expectancy increase which inevitably is leading to more years of retirement. We know that financial considerations are important in preparing for retirement and can see both from the research, and from our customers, that planning for retirement gives people more control over their post-working life and more options around how they spend their retirement. We are fully committed to ensuring that people enjoy the years approaching and beyond retirement and in supporting them in having choices around retirement.”

Lead Academic at TILDA, Professor Rose Anne Kenny said: “The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) provides us with a solid base of research to support public policy in addressing the health, economic and social systems of our citizens as they age. This report provides a unique opportunity to observe changes in the lives of older adults as they embark on retirement, an important life stage for many. Retirement provides opportunities as well as challenges to many aspects of people's lives. Though the actual process of retirement may be stressful, once mitigated the hardest part is over. As a research institution we are very excited about sharing this knowledge with policy makers and the general public.”

Key findings of Irish Adults Transition to Retirement report

  • Retirement is associated with considerable adjustments to financial, physical and mental wellbeing, daily activities, and health-related behaviours.
  • More than half (58%) of employed participants planned to retire before they reached 68 years while 22% did not plan to retire at any time.
  • Almost half (49%) of employed participants were members of an occupational pension scheme organised by their employer, and 13% were members of a Personal Retirement Saving Account scheme or other personal pension scheme. The remainder were not members of either.
  • Pension eligibility was the most commonly cited reason for retirement (34%) while 10% retired due to ill-health.
  • Thirteen percent of retirees continued to work after their retirement, typically in temporary or occasional positions for an average of 23 hours per week.

To view the report here and infographics here.