Working Longer? How Being Employed/Self-Employed in Later Life in the UK Relates to Health and Increasing Gender and Income Inequalities
Recent UK employment and pension policy changes have affected people in their sixties. State pension ages have increased for women from 60 to 66/67, and mandatory retirement age at 65 has been abolished. The paper addresses government assumptions that older men and women will continue to work in their late sixties, and examines the health of workers over age 65, as well as gender differences in jobs undertaken and income received.
The paper analyses ‘Understanding Society’ for 2012-13 (wave 4), which interviews all persons in a large sample of British households, focusing on men and women aged 60-79 (n=11400), particularly aged 65-69 (n=3400). We analyse participation in paid employment and self-employment, the nature of employment, factors that predict being employed/self-employed, and income from employment/self-employment.
At ages 65-69, 21% of men and 18% of women are economically active. Employee jobs are more likely to be part-time, hourly paid and in the service/sales sector. Nearly half of men aged 65-69 who are economically active and a third of women are self-employed. Health and being more educated are key predictors of being employed/self-employed. Levels of income inequality from employment, and especially self-employment, are very marked. The top 10% of self-employed men earn 10 times more than the lowest 25%, and earn 20 times more than the lowest 25% of self-employed women.
Being employed/self-employed in the late sixties is associated with better health and educational advantages. Substantial income inequalities are evident among the employed and self-employed in their late sixties. Continued economic activity may compound gender and other inequalities in later life.