Number of people working into their seventies doubles in 15 years

old person hands typing at a laptop in close-up
Photo: Pixabay
old person hands typing at a laptop in close-up
Photo: Pixabay

The number of people working beyond their 70th birthday has more than doubled in the last 15 years, latest figures show.

In 2018 7.3% of septuagenarians earned an income from working, compared to 3.3% in 2003. More than half (55%) were self-employed sole traders (zzp’ers), a proportion that rises to 69% of over-75s.

David van Bodegom, of Leyden Academy, told RTL that the decision of when to pension workers off should take account of their wishes and circumstances. ‘Some people have to keep working for too long, others get to 66 and are told: go and sit at home, you’re no longer required. Both situations are harmful.’

‘A college lecturer can keep doing his work long after his 65th birthday and feels written off if he has to retire, but someone who has been struggling for 10 years to get up ladders or maintain the railways is glad when they’re finally allowed to stop.’

Van Bodegom said many elderly people were willing and able to keep working, though they might need to make adjustments because they struggled to work 40 hours a week or irregular shift patterns.

‘People say hard work never killed anyone, but I don’t believe that. Well-educated rich people live on average seven years longer than low-educated poor people. That’s partly because they often smoke less and are less likely to be overweight, but also because working in an office is very different to construction or working on the roads.’

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