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Pulling the Pin
Of course it’s all very well to retire, but you need some money to sustain you in your sunset years. For men, the most commonly reported main source of personal income at retirement was a 'Government pension or allowance' (52%), followed by 'superannuation or annuity' (26%).
Although a 'Government pension or allowance' was also the most common source among women (40%), this was followed closely by 'no personal income' (40%). Of the women who reported 'no personal income', 91% reported 'partner's income' as their main source of funds for meeting living costs at retirement.
As a lifelong public servant I had no choice regarding superannuation. When I began work 37 years ago it was compulsory to join the Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme. No option for a naïve young boy to opt out and spend his money on fast cars and even faster women. Was that a good thing or a bad thing?
Of course, retirement doesn’t always work out as planned. There were 217,700 people aged 45 years and over who had previously retired from the labour force, but at the time of the survey were either in the labour force or were planning to look for, or take up, work in the future. Most of this group were women (144,500). Seems once the blokes go, they never come back!
The most commonly reported reasons for returning to the labour force were 'financial need' (44%), 'bored/needed something to do' (35%) and 'interesting opportunity came up' (12%). I think if reasons one or two applied, then reason three is a no-brainer.
Of the 4.3 million people in the labour force aged 45 years and over, 3.4 million (78%) indicated that they intended to retire from the labour force in the future. This begs the question of what the other 22% were thinking. Are they planning work forever?
Well, maybe they will! Of the remaining 954,700 people, 377,600 did not know whether they intended to retire from the labour force and 575,400 indicated no intention to retire from the labour force. If I was a potential employer, these are the people I’d be looking for. The remaining 1,600 were unemployed and had never worked, so it was easy for them to say they wouldn’t stop working, wasn’t it?
And what about life after work? Women (42%) were more likely to have thought about doing unpaid voluntary work than men (31%), who had mostly not thought about this at all (44%). Come on guys, get with the program.
With regard to being socially active, mentally active and physically active during retirement, the most common response among those intending to retire was to 'continue with current behaviours' (36%, 34% and 37%, respectively). In my case this could be a real worry.
So it looks like I could be the last of a dying breed, the early retirer. Luckily ABS statistics (3302.0.55.001 - Life Tables, Australia, 2006–2008 ) can tell me how long I’ll live in retirement, before I actually die. A 54 year old male has an estimated life expectancy of 27.9 more years. This should see me last until I’m around 83 years of age.
An Australian woman of my wife’s age could look forward to another 36 years. But, as it happens, my wife originates from the longest living people in the world, the Japanese, which gives her a couple of years on top of that.
So with that I officially retire, from the paid workforce anyway. But I plan to keep track of the stats the ABS puts out and, in true grumpy old man fashion, write disparaging letters in long hand if I spot any errors.
Article by Phil Smythe, Client Liaison Unit - Former lifetime ABS employee, now touring Japan as a retired man.
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