Around the World, More Choose a Semi-Retired Kind of Life

By Mike Bushnell • 5/5/2015 • 0 Comments
As globalization and capitalism have spread throughout the world, so has the concept of phased retirement. According to a new HSBC study on worldwide retirement trends, what workers hope to do as they get older varies widely continent by continent.

According to the study, 56% of working-age respondents, including 42% of American respondents, say they plan to semi-retire in the future, compared to 34% who expect to go right from full-time work into retirement. However, this is a stark jump from the 22% of present retirees who said they eased into retirement, as opposed to going from full-time work straight to full retirement. Optimism also abounded in the survey, with just 10% of respondents expecting that they will never be able to fully retire.

The semi-retirement option is most popular with workers in south Asian countries, with 77% of Indonesian, 64% of Malaysian, 62% of Taiwanese and Singaporean respondents saying they planned to ease out of the working world. The U.S. (42%) and France (32%) had the lowest rates of those who wished to semi-retire, and just 7% of French retirees said they experienced semi-retirement. 

The survey reported that more workers choose semi-retirement than are forced into it, with 34% staying in the workforce to stay mentally sharp. Just 7% reported being forced to stay in the workforce longer than they otherwise would have wanted to, in order to keep supporting family members. Overall, 78% of all respondents (working and retired) reported supporting at least one other person financially to some degree.

Interestingly enough, of the 15 countries surveyed, respondents from many of the richest ones were the most likely to say they would never be able to retire. Though the global average was 10%, 16% of respondents in Australia (5th in per capita nominal GDP, according to the IMF), 15% Singaporeans (9th) and Canadians (15th), and 13% of Americans (10th) said they would never have enough money to retire. Conversely, 5% of Indonesians (116th) and Malaysians (63rd), and between 7% of those in Mexico (64th) and Turkey (66th) said they would be able to fully leave the workforce.

The report, titled “The Future of Retirement: Choice for Later Life” was comprised of surveys from over 16,000 online respondents, in August and September of 2014. To auto-download a pdf of the 32-page report, click here.

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