How important is work in your general scheme of life? Can you imagine working and working till you drop dead of old age? Or do you envisage a future where you retire early, with a lot of money in the bank, put your feet up and drink martinis on the beach?

Well, strictly speaking, the choice is yours and yours alone but maybe we can consider this question a bit to see if you can afford early retirement in today’s world. An international research by HSBC showed that a large proportion of working people ( 1/8th) felt that they would not be able to afford retirement while the vast majority of the rest were not financially secure for a world without employment.

People do not save enough to retire early

Experts feel that in the new world people just do not save enough money to retire early. In addition, governments and companies across the world are gradually increasing the retirement age for employees so people have to perforce work till an older age than they did previously. However, their contribution to retirement funds are not growing so employees are left holding pensions that will not sustain their current standard of living.

In most countries, with the advancement in medicine and better health conditions, people’s health is improving, there are medications to tackle illness and disease, and as a result people are living longer, much longer than they did in the time of their predecessor. So with life expectancy rising significantly, general health improving and the physical demands of most types of work easing, people are able to work into an age later than what it was earlier.

Longer life expectancy force people to work longer

Research indicates that average retirement age needs to increase by six months every year to reflect longer life expectancy. This means that over the next 30 years, people would stop work at age 80!! A research study covering 16,000 people in 15 countries showed that economic pressures and longer life expectancy force people to work longer.

The conventional idea of stopping work when you reach a ‘pension age’, whether that is government pension age, or the age at which a private company pension starts, is no longer valid. There is no official retirement age any longer. In fact, the younger generation thinks of retiring and retirement age as an old-fashioned, outmoded concept. To them individual choice and economic pressures determine for how long they will continue to be in the work force. They also think in terms of a “phased retirement” where they move into part-time work, consultancy, temporary or special assignments, and similar options where they gradually reduce the number of hours they work before retiring completely, as they grow older.

Rapid growth in the older population in West

In developed countries, in recent years there has been a rapid growth in the older population and the rapid shrinking of the younger generation, thanks to longer life expectancy and falling birth rates – so the older generation will stay on in the work force even if not in traditional roles. The shrinking of the younger population will cause an even greater transformation by creating new employment patterns to attract and retain a growing number of older people, especially those who educated and trained.

On a slightly tragic note, research has indicated that single people living alone, the divorced or those separated from partners were more likely to work into old age in order to alleviate their feelings of isolation and loneliness.