A controversial new report has suggested that the state pension age (SPA) should be increased to 70 by 2028 and to 75 by 2035, to help support an ageing population, arguing that working longer has positive impacts on the health and wellbeing of employees.

The report by the right-leaning Centre for Social Justice entitled Ageing Confidently: Supporting an Ageing Workforce suggests that for many, work provides structure to life and important social networks that can provide a sense of purpose and self-esteem, as well as supporting health through mental, social and physical stimulation.

It also cites research by scientists which found that individuals lacking social connections are at risk from premature mortality. The research found that changes in social networks related to an individual’s transition out of full-time employment often resulted in a decrease in socialisation in occupational and public forums. In addition, the reduction in face-to-face interactions with people throughout their day resulted in poorer health and decreased longevity.

The authors of the report also noted a report by the Institute of Economic Affairs in 2013 which found that retirement has a detrimental impact on both mental and physical health over time. It concluded that retirement decreases the likelihood of being in “very good” or “excellent” self-assessed health by approximately 40%, while increasing the probability of suffering clinical depression by approximately 40%.

In addition, another 2010 study found that early retirement has a significant negative impact on the cognitive ability of people in their early 60s.

Nevertheless, the report does acknowledge that working up to and past state pension age might not be beneficial for everyone and that the benefits of working longer very much depend on the individual and on the quality of work.

Indeed, a study by the University of Manchester found that formerly unemployed adults who transitioned into poor quality work had greater adverse health outcomes compared with those who remained unemployed.

Last reviewed 20 August 2019