New research has identified that the number of over 65s in work has almost doubled over the past ten years and their spending is supporting the consumer economy.
The analysis published today by Saga – the financial services and leisure company for the over 50s - counters claims that the baby-boomer generation is a current drain on the UK economy.
The Centre for Economic and Business Research report for Saga into the growing importance of the silver pound shows, that just under 30 per cent of the UK workforce is made up of the over 50s – up from just under a quarter in 2002.
A significant driver of this increasing share of employment is a structural shift towards more over 65s choosing to remain in employment thanks, in part, to the abolition of the statutory retirement age in 2012. Between 2002 and 2012, the number of individuals aged 65 or over in employment almost doubled – rising from 479,000 to 935,000.
The over 50s are also big earners and spenders - estimated to have accounted for £459 billion (46.2%) of UK household income in 2012, and £317 billion (47.0%) of UK household expenditure - and the figures show that this proportion has risen during the most difficult economic environment. In 2007 the comparative expenditure figure was 42.5%.
And the 50 plus group is a major driver of the consumer and leisure economy, choosing to spend significant sums on food, health and recreation & culture; the group accounts for over half of UK household expenditure in these areas.
In 2011 (the latest year for which there is data) the over 50s spent £44 billion on recreation and culture and £24 billion on restaurants and hotels.
Saga’s Group Chief Marketing Officer Tim Pethick said: “Our report shatters the myth that the over 50s are holding back the economy.
“It demonstrates that the silver pound is a growing and crucial part of the economy. The influence and spending of the Saga generations have provided a powerful counterbalance to economic depression.
“The good news is that experienced, productive and motivated over 50s have been extending their working lives, often setting up new small businesses, creating and sustaining wealth and employment.
“Using this accumulated wisdom is also good for individual’s bank balances and the economy as a whole. Our report sends a strong message to business and politicians that ignoring older people is dangerous and damaging.”
Report - Over 50s and their growing importance to the UK economy
The report has been produced by Cebr, an independent economics and business research consultancy established in 1993, providing forecasts and advice to City institutions, government departments, local authorities and numerous blue chip companies throughout Europe. The main author of this report is Scott Corfe, Cebr Senior Economist.