Skip to content

Summary - Chapter 4: The labour market and retirement

Released: 16 February 2012 Download PDF

Also in this release

People are working longer than they used to. The average age at which people leave the labour market - a proxy for average age of retirement - rose from 63.8 years to 64.6 years for men and from 61.2 years to 62.3 years for women between 2004 and 2010.

Average age of withdrawal from the labour market, UK

The chart shows two lines: one for men rising from 63.8 years in 2004 to 64.6 years in 2010 and one for women from 61.2 years to 62.3 years.
Source: Office for National Statistics

Download chart data

This average summarises information about the ages at which people stop working, which differ for different people. For men, the peak ages for leaving the labour market are 64 to 66 years. For women, the peak ages are 59 to 62 years. Thus, labour market exits peak around State Pension Age for both sexes. However, many people retire before State Pension Age and others work beyond it.

A larger proportion of men than of women take early retirement: 8.2 per cent of women in the 55 to State Pension Age group were classified as retired in April-June 2011, compared with 20.4 per cent of men aged 60 to State Pension Age.

The majority of people below State Pension Age who are in employment do full-time work, but the transition to retirement involves a move to part-time employment. In April-June 2011, 7.3 per cent of men of State Pension Age and over worked part-time, while 4.6 per cent worked full-time; 8.9 per cent of women of State Pension Age and over worked part-time, while 3.6 per cent worked full-time.

Source: Office for National Statistics

Background notes

  1. The average age at which people leave the labour market is calculated by ONS using the duration of working life (DWL) or 'working life expectancy' approach, which combines information on life expectancy based on single calendar year versions of Interim Life Tables with economic activity rates from the Annual Population Survey.
  2. Information on early retirement and employment patterns in April-June 2011 is from ONS's Labour Force Survey; data is not seasonally adjusted.
  3. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting or from the Media Relations Office email:

    These National Statistics are produced to high professional standards and released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

Related Internet links

Pension Trends - consists of 14 chapters bringing together official statistics on pensions and retirement.

The ONS is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
© Crown Copyright applies unless otherwise stated.