Arber, Sara Lynne; Meadows, Rob
University of Surrey, United Kingdom
Background: Recent UK policy changes have had major impacts on people in their sixties. State pension ages have increased for women from 60 to 66, and mandatory retirement age has been abolished. The paper addresses UK government assumptions that older men and women will continue to work in their late sixties, and examines gender differences in jobs undertaken and income received. Methods: The paper analyses ‘Understanding Society’ for 2012-13 (wave 4), which interviews all persons in a large sample of British households, focusing on men and women aged 60-79 (n=11400), particularly aged 65-69 (n=3400). We analyse participation in paid employment and self-employment, the nature of employment, factors that predict being employed/self-employed, and income from employment/self-employment. Results: At ages 65-69, 21% of men and 18% of women are economically active. Employee jobs are more likely to be part-time, hourly paid and in the service/sales sector. Nearly half of men aged 65-69 who are economically active and a third of women are self-employed. Health and being more educated are key predictors of being employed/self-employed. Levels of income inequality from employment, and especially self-employment, are very marked. The top 10% of self-employed men earn 10 times more than the lowest 25%, and earn 20 times more than the lowest 25% of self-employed women. Conclusions: Being employed/self-employed in the late sixties is associated with health and educational advantages. Substantial income inequalities are evident among the employed and self-employed in their late sixties. Continued economic activity may compound gender and other inequalities in later life.