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Retirement and Retirement Intentions, Australia

Retiree statistics and the retirement plans of people aged 45 years and over

Reference period
2018-19

Key statistics

In 2018-19,

  • There were 3.9 million retirees.
  • 55% of people over 55 years old were retired, up from 53% in 2016-17.
  • The average age of retirement was 55.4 years (includes people who had left their last job due to illness, injury, job loss, and other reasons).
  • For people who were intending to retire, the average age they planned to retire was 65.5 years.
  • 0.5 million people intend to retire in the next 5 years.
     

Retirement

  • In 2018-19, 55% of retirees were women.
  • The population of retired women increased more than men.
  • On average, women retire sooner than men.
     
  2016-17*2018-19Change
People aged 45 years and over
 Retirees3.5 million3.9 million+0.3 million
 Proportion retired38%40%+2 pts
 Average age of retirement55.2 years55.4 years+0.2 years
Men aged 45 years and over
 Retirees1.6 million1.7 million+0.1 million
 Proportion retired36%37%+1 pts
 Average age of retirement58.8 years59.5 years+0.7 years
Women aged 45 years and over
 Retirees1.9 million2.1 million+0.2 million
 Proportion retired39%43%+3 pts
 Average age of retirement52.2 years52.1 years-0.1 years
*Note: 2016-17 data has been revised to align with updated benchmarks.

 
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Note: Age of retirement is the age when people retired from the labour force (i.e. ceased working and/or looking for work).
 

​​​​​​​Reason left last job

In 2018-19, the top 3 reasons retirees left their last job were:

  • Reached retirement age or eligible for superannuation (46%)
  • Own sickness, injury or disability (21%)
  • Retrenched, dismissed or no work available (11%)
     

Retired women were more likely to have left their last job to care an ill, disabled or elderly person than men (8% vs 2%).

Income at retirement

Between 2016-17 and 2018-19,

  • The government pension remained the main source of income for most retirees.
  • More people retired with superannuation as a source of income, but the increase was greater for men than women.
  • Retirees with no personal income remained around 30% for women and 7% for men.
     

In 2018-19,

  • 36% of retired women relied on their partner’s income to meet their living costs at retirement (compared to 7% of retired men).
  • For people intending to retire, the main factor that will influence their decision about when to retire was financial security.
     
  Proportion of retirees
  2016-172018-19Change
 Retired men aged 45 years and over
All sources of income included:
 Government pension57%53%-4 pts
 Superannuation46%49%+4 pts
Main source of income
 Government pension50%49%-1 pt
 Superannuation32%30%-2 pt
 No personal income7%7%0 pts
 Retired women aged 45 years and over
All sources of income included:
 Government pension48%45%-3 pts
 Superannuation26%27%+1 pt
Main source of income
 Government pension45%44%-1 pt
 Superannuation17%17%0 pts
 No personal income29%30%+1 pt
Note: Government pension includes all types of government allowance and Superannuation includes all types of annuities and allocated pensions.

 
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Retirement by state and territory

  • Tasmania and South Australia had the highest proportion of retirees.
     

Between 2016-17 and 2018-19,

  • New South Wales had the greatest increase in retirees (1.1 million to 1.3 million).
  • Northern Territory had the highest increase in proportion of retirees (14% to 20%).
  • Western Australia and Australian Capital Territory showed a decrease in their population of retirees.
     
 People aged 45 years and over
 RetireesProportion retiredChange in proportion
since 2016-17
New South Wales1.3 million41%+4 pts
Victoria1.0 million40%+2 pts
Queensland750,00040%+2 pts
South Australia330,00045%+3 pts
Western Australia330,00034%-2 pts
Tasmania110,00047%+1 pts
Northern Territory14,00020%+6 pts
Aust. Capital Territory46,00032%-4 pts
   
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Changes this issue

​​​​​​​Weighting and rebenchmarking

From this issue, the Retirement and Retirement Intentions survey (R&RI) was weighted to benchmarks that were based on a 12 month average of population estimates across the financial year reference period (July 2018 to June 2019). These benchmarks included populations categorised by geography of usual residence, sex and age, as well as employed, unemployed and not in the labour force populations. They were sourced from the results of the Labour Force Survey (LFS) as reported in the December 2019 issue of Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0).

Previously, population benchmarks were based on a single point in time instead of a 12 month average (December for the 2016-17 issue, and March for previous issues). Using a 12 month average removes the seasonality from the employed, unemployed and not in the labour force benchmarks and is more representative of the period of collection across the financial year.

Estimates from the LFS have been used as benchmarks for R&RI since the 2014-15 issue, to improve coherence between the two publications. Previously, they were used in tandem with independent benchmarks from Estimated Resident Population (ERP). LFS estimates are also benchmarked to ERP, and since 2015 have been revised and rebenchmarked on a quarterly basis to the latest population estimates. From this issue, R&RI benchmarks are based solely on LFS estimates, since they already include the latest information from ERP.

Estimates from previous R&RI surveys back to 2004-05 have also been revised and reweighted using this method (population benchmarks based on a 12 month average of LFS estimates across the financial year), from the same population series as published in the December 2019 issue of Labour Force, Australia. This has improved the consistency and coherence of the timeseries published in R&RI.

The revised timeseries is available in Table 2 of this publications Data downloads section. The format of Table 2 has been modified to accommodate extending the series back to the November 1997 survey (which has also been rebenchmarked).

Retirement definition

The definition of retirement no longer requires people to have previously worked in a job for at least 2 weeks. The definition now only requires people to have previously worked in a job for any duration, including jobs that lasted for less than 2 weeks.

This change was done to remain consistent with changes that were made to the LFS questionnaire in July 2014 regarding duration of job search (aka duration of unemployment). The question regarding duration since last worked also previously required people to only refer to jobs that were worked for at least 2 weeks, but since July 2014 the '2 weeks' requirement was removed. Since the determination of retirement status references this question from the LFS questionnaire, the equivalent question in the R&RI questionnaire was updated to remain consistent.

For more details, refer to the updated Retirement and Retirement Intentions questionnaire provided in this publications Data downloads section.

TableBuilder

Retirement and Retirement Intentions 2018-19 microdata will be available today (8th May 2020) via TableBuilder (cat. no. 6238.0.55.001).

For more information see About TableBuilder.

Previously, data from the Barriers and Incentives to Labour Force Participation survey would also be included in the same TableBulder product. Data items relating to this survey are not yet available, and will be released on 28 August 2020 to co-incide with the publication of Barriers and Incentives to Labour Force Participation, Australia (cat. no. 6239.0)

Perturbation

Retirement and Retirement Intention data in published outputs will no longer have perturbation applied, an approach consistent with other ABS Labour statistics publications.

Table name changes

In order to make the data easier to use, table names have been changed to shorter and more concise names that better describe the contents of each table. The content and the layout of each table has not changed.

Data downloads

Data item list

Table 1. Retirement and retirement intentions summary

Table 2. Retirement and retirement intentions, timeseries

Table 3. Characteristics of retirees

Table 4. Previous job of retirees

Table 5. Reasons why retirees ceased last job

Table 6. Main source of income at the start of retirement

Table 7. Main source of income for retirees in 2018-19

Table 8. Superannuation and lump sum details of retirees

Table 9. Age people intend to retire

Table 10. Age people intend to retire by superannuation and current income

Table 11. Transition plans to retirement

Table 12. People who came out of retirement

Table 13. Populations by state or territory of usual residence

Questionnaire

All data cubes

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 6238.0.