Robin Bowerman, Head of Retail at Vanguard Investments Australia.
Robin Bowerman, Head of Retail at Vanguard Investments Australia.

World champion retirees

AUSTRALIA is high in world rankings when it comes to the length of time that we typically spend as retirees.

Particularly given the extreme inadequacy of our retirement savings, it is not a title to hold with pride.

Australian males will spend much longer in retirement than the OECD average – with some exceptions including France.

This is due to a combination of factors: our propensity to retire long before pension age and one of the world’s longest life expectancies.

It is a challenging combination for most Australians in terms of providing for retirement.

Latest-available OECD statistics show that the average number of years spent in retirement for member countries is almost 23 years for women and 17.5 years for men.

Australia’s average retirement age is 60 – up from 58 in 2007. And the Mercer consultancy group calculates that the life expectancy of a 65-year-old is 20.9 years in Australia is men and 24.3 years for women.

The latest saga in the world-wide phenomena of a shrinking working population and a rapidly expanding retirement population with longer life spans occurred in Spain late in February. Protests took place in Madrid Barcelona and Valencia as the Spanish Government passed draft legislation to increase the retirement age from 65 to 67.

A recent article in The Economist – headed Golden Years – commented: “Spaniards should spare a thought for the previous generation; those who became pensioners [at 65] in 1970 could expect to survive for less than a decade.”

But according to OECD/The Economist statistics, Spanish pensioners who retire today at 65 can expect to live for more than 20 years – twice as long as just a few years ago.

The postponing of retirement, if possible, can provide Australians with a valuable means to stretch much-needed retirement savings. Perhaps the dream of an early retirement, once held by many people, will lose its lustre.

On February 15, Smart Investing looked at what has been termed the ‘silver tsunami’ of retiring baby boomers.

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Robin Bowerman, Vanguard Investments Australia's Head of Retail, has more than two decades of experience in the finance industry as a writer, commentator and editor.

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