The pension age in the UK has seen some dramatic changes over the last few decades. As pension legislation is reviewed and altered over time, British men and women have seen major changes to the time expected in retirement. As we grow more advanced in the medical and technological world, it’s no surprise that the average life expectancy has risen over time. But how far has the age of retirement been in line with the average length of life? We’ve drawn together a pension age timeline to illustrate just that. Let’s take a look…
The early days of UK pensions
During the early twentieth century, a boost in life expectancy was driven by the quality of housing and sanitation, and there was no shortage of young people dying of infections and diseases. As we became more educated and more advanced with medicine, we naturally started living much longer.
But it wasn’t that long ago, in the early 1900s, that the average UK adult only lived to be about 42. This was no time for a comfortable retirement, as the first state pension in the UK, known as the “Old Age Pension” wasn’t given out until you turned 70. Needless to say, less than a quarter of people lived to see retirement.
The gender divide of the UK pension age
By 1940, women could draw their pension five years earlier than their husbands, at the age of 60. This gave them an average of 5.2 years in retirement as the average woman lived to be 65.2. Oddly, the men only lived to be 60 years old at that time, yet couldn’t draw their pensions until they were 65. It was during this time that the “Old Age and Widows” pension came into force, opening more possibilities for women. Sadly not too many men lived long enough to draw their pensions. The pension age wasn’t equalised until 2018 when it was announced that both men and women could retire at 65.
Current times with UK pensions
Fast forward to 2020 and it’s clear to see there have been many twists and turns in the road, but ultimately we are living longer and expecting to have more time to enjoy after hanging up our work hats. The average man lives to 79.2, the average woman to almost 83, and both men and women are able to retire at the age of 66. As usual though, legislation doesn’t stay still for too long, and there are more predicted changes to be taking place in around 2027. There is, of course, further legislation in place for your significant other in the event of death. Read our blog on who gets your pension in the event of death for more information.
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