Canadians retiring later, but living longer too

This article was originally published by CTV News on October 26th 2011, to go to the CTV News website, please click here

Working Canadians are choosing to wait longer before entering retirement, though they are also living longer.

A new report from Statistics Canada suggests that men and women are increasingly choosing to delay retirement, as part of a long-term trend that began well before the recent recession.

The statistics agency says the shift to a later retirement date began in the mid-1990s.

Back then, a 50-year-old employed person could expect to work another 12.5 years before retiring from the daily grind.

Today, that same 50-year-old worker could expect another 16 years of employment.

There has been a corresponding increase in the employment rate of Canadians aged 55 and older during this time period.

StatsCan says that 34 per cent of Canadians aged 55 and older were employed in 2010, compared to just 22 per cent in 1996.

Self-employed Toronto businesswoman Adina Lebo is one of the many people in this age group who still embrace going into work every day.

Lebo, 62, actually retired this past spring, but reversed course when she realized she wasn’t ready to leave the office for good.

“Sixty is the new 40,” Lebo told CTV News Channel on Wednesday morning.

“And I have so much energy. I love working, I love contributing to society and it’s not time to slow down.”

There could also be economic factors driving older Canadians to keep working longer than they did in the past.

A new Royal Bank of Canada survey says that 57 per cent of Canadians do not set aside money for emergencies, suggesting that many future retirees end up facing unforeseen expenses that delay their long-term plans.

While it might be expected that a longer working life would imply a shorter retirement, StatsCan says that men and women leaving the work force today are spending as much time in their post-career life as many of their predecessors did.

For example, in 1977, a 50-year-old man could expect to spend 45 per cent of his remaining years on Earth in retirement. Today, that same person would expect to be retired for 48 per cent the years ahead of him.

For women, the proportional length of retirement has stood basically unchanged. In 2008, a 50-year-old woman would expect to spend 55 per cent of her remaining life in retirement, which StatsCan says was almost the same 1977.

Lebo said she has many friends who have sought out new opportunities and experiences since they entered retirement.

“It’s just a time to expand and go somewhere new and do something different,” Lebo said.

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