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For the First Time since 1974: More Working People than Retirees Among 60- to 65-Year-Olds

Chart of the Month – August 2013

For the first time in nearly four decades, there are more working people than retirees in the age group of 60- to 65-year-olds. In the year 2012, approximately 42% of this age group were in paid work, whereas at 40%, the proportion of retirees and pensioners was somewhat lower. The last time more workers than retirees among the 60- to 65-year-olds could be counted, was the year 1974. This information has been published by the German Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB).

At first, the employment rate of older people had been continuously dropping for a period of nearly three decades since the early 1970s, while the proportion of retirees and pensioners rose at the same time. Even in the year 2000, almost two-thirds of 60- to 65-year-olds received a pension or were in retirement, only 17% were working. At the turn of the millennium, however, the labour force behaviour of older people changed dramatically: Within a time frame of only twelve years, the employment rate of this age group increased by two and a half and has since even risen above the level of the 1970s.

Harun Sulak from the BiB ascribes the upward trend of recent years to a changing legal framework: “The incentives for early retirement were greatly reduced in recent years, so that working people remain in employment for longer.” In addition, higher levels of qualification and a generally stable economic situation have increased chances of older people on the labour market. The idea that older workers are less productive than younger workers has also changed.

In the years to come, changes in the age structure, a continuously increasing life expectancy and the raise of the retirement age to 67 will lead to an increase of working people in their sixties.

The picture shows a line chart which illustrates the proportion of working people and retirees (60- to 65-Year-Olds) between 1972 and 2012 Proportion of Working People and Retirees

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