Retiring at 40? Or work longer, live longer? You’ve probably heard plenty of stories of young couples retiring early to travel round the world. But you’ve probably also read about people working late into their 70s, or even starting new businesses. So, what is the ideal age to retire? Let the numbers guide you to an answer.

60, is the new 40?

Retiring early with enough money to enjoy life seems to be a trend nowadays, but what is the reality? In fact, the global trend is actually going in the opposite direction. And particularly in developed countries where the retirement age is getting older and older. There’s even a saying that “60, is the new 40”, which means that people in their 60s can still look forward to many new stages in their careers. The reason, for this is simply that populations are aging and people are living longer, and enjoying better health due to improved medical care, higher education levels, and lower birthrates, which all lead to people staying employed often long after 60.

“Happy countries” retiring at 67

The statutory retirement age or pension age around the world is also increasing. The Nordic states – which are often considered the world’s happiest countries – are at the top of the list for later retirement at 67 (See chart 1). Other developed countries such as the USA, Switzerland, and Belgium are not far from behind, with retirement ages of 65 or above. As life expectancy rises, there is even an increasing tendency for different countries to postpone retirement even further.

Chart 1: Overview of retirement ages around the world

65 (UK, Switzerland, Belgium); 66 (USA, Ireland, Portugal); 67 (Norway, Iceland, Denmark)

Overview of retirement ages around the world

Japan, however, so loved by Hong Kongers, is a special case. Despite its statutory retirement age of 60, the effective retirement age for males is 70.2¹. According to a White Paper on the Labour Economy published by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in 2016², over 80% of the population aged 60 or above want to continue in their present jobs, and the elderly people who want to start new businesses after 60 is increasing every year.

Do the post-80s generations prefer early retirement the most?

But what is happening in Hong Kong? There is no statutory retirement age in Hong Kong, but the retirement age for civil servants was changed from 60 to 65 in 2015. Though the official retirement age is getting older, in terms of attitudes, more and more younger people are talking about early retirement. This reflects the changing views of different generations: 

Chart 2: Different generations, different views on retirement

Different generations, different views on retirement

Generally speaking, different generations have grown up with different backgrounds, and thus might have different views on retirement. The younger generations want to retire early and enjoy life. So how do you feel?

Retire at 70 or 40? There is no fixed “rule”. The most important thing is to understand your own wishes, and plan early. Keep things flexible, and determine your own retirement age.  “What you want” for your own life is the ideal retirement plan for you.

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  1. OECD 2016, Ageing and Employment Policies – Statistics on average effective age of retirement; (accessed on 2018/1/5)
  2. Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, White Paper on the Labour Economy Total Contents 2016; (accessed on 2018/1/5)

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