Class divide revealed in approach to retirement

Professional and managerial employees are twice as likely to save privately for their retirement than blue collar and unskilled manual workers.

The latest Personnel Today/NOP research questioned people on their attitudes to retirement, pensions and the ageing workforce and some of the responses highlight the stark differences at either end of the social spectrum.

The respondents were categorised into social status, and the research shows that the class divide in the UK, particularly around savings and pensions, is still alive and well.

Forty-five per cent of ABs – the highest social status – invest in a private pension, compared with just 22 per cent of DEs – the lowest. More than half (52 per cent) of ABs also have other investments to help prepare for retirement, such as property or shares. This compares with 37 per cent of C2 respondents, and under a third (30 per cent) of DEs.

When questioned about which other investment methods they are using to prepare for retirement, 68 per cent of AB respondents said they either have a company or public sector pension, compared with 48 per cent of C2s and 44 per cent of DEs.

Two-thirds of working ABs don’t believe they will have to work past the current statutory retirement age of 65, with 40 per cent predicting that they will retire by the time they reach 60, reflecting a superior confidence in their financial security.

In contrast, under a third (30 per cent) of working DEs think they will be able to permanently put their feet up before 60. One in 10 in this class were unsure whether they would have to work on past the age of 65.

All the classes strongly agreed that the UK workforce is becoming older. However, AB respondents showed a better recognition of the issues surrounding an ageing workforce, with two-thirds agreeing that people currently aged under 30 will have to work until they are 70.

Eighty-five per cent of ABs also agreed that most companies in the UK do not want to employ people over 65 – compared with 66 per cent of DEs. 

Social Class breakdown

AB Upper/middle class, higher/middle managerial

C1 Lower middle class, junior managerial (white collar)

C2 Working class, skilled manual workers (blue collar)

DE Working class, semi/unskilled workers, long-term unemployed

A tale of two surveys

NOP: Research conducted by telephone interview

Sample: All adults aged 15+ Sample size: 999

Dates: 1-3 October 2004 Online survey

Sample: HR professionals in the UK. Sample size: 510

Dates: 20 Sept – 18 Oct 2004

Do you believe age discrimination is widespread among UK companies?

HR 91% yes Public 61% yes

People over 65 are too old to do most jobs

HR 65% disagree Public 73% disagree

Most companies in the UK do not want to employ people over 65

HR 88% agree Public 75% agree

The UK workforce is getting older

HR 84% agree Public 68% agree

Companies will be forced to accept older staff because of an ageing workforce and skills shortages

HR 88% agree Public 76% agree

People who are currently under 30 will have to work until they are 70

HR 76% agree Public 63% agree

Older workers are more forgetful than younger colleagues

HR 21% agree Public 26% agree

Older workers take less sick leave than younger colleagues

HR 75% agree Public 67% agree

Older workers are more efficient at work than younger colleagues

HR 51% agree Public 60% agree

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