Working for longer can boost retirement income options but the UK is lagging many developed countries in offering employment opportunities for the over 50s.
Britain ranks 19th out of 34 Organisation of Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) members in providing work for the over 50s, according to new research by accountancy firm PwC.
To compete, Britain needs to close the gender pay gap and improve training.
Putting in place measures adopted by the highest ranking EU country could improve the UK economy by £80 billion, says the report.
Iceland heads the table, with New Zealand and Israel taking the other top spots.
Working longer would boost GDP
Sweden is the highest rated EU country, taking fourth place, with a 12% employment gap for 55 to 64 year olds over Britain.
The UK has a 70% employment for the same age group, with the highest regional return in the South-East where almost 75% of 55 to 64 year olds have jobs. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the figure is between 63% and 68%.
The research suggests that employment for older workers depends on local economic performance, education and gender.
“As the number of people over 55 continues to grow steadily and life expectancy increases, the UK needs to make it as easy as possible for people to continue working for longer if they wish to do so. This would boost both GDP and tax revenues, so helping to pay for the increased health, social care and pension costs of an ageing population,” said John Hawksworth, PwC’s chief economist.
UK outranked by Chile and Mexico
“Looking at employment rates for older workers across the UK reveals the areas that need the most focus, as well as symptoms of poor performance. Regions with fewer older workers with university degrees and a larger gap between male and female employment tend to have the lowest employment rates for older workers.”
The study also revealed that a higher education background is associated with working until older.
Better qualified older workers can adapt to technological change, while industries in which better qualified workers are employed are more suited to working in later life.
Countries ranking above the UK include Estonia (5), South Korea (7), Chile (10) and Mexico (18).