Pension incentives to retire later have "little impact"

27 February 2004
Consultants Watson Wyatt today warned that attempts to encourage people to delay retirement by offering them higher state pensions will not be very effective.

Research on almost 3,000 found that response to financial incentives was weak.

The poll found that it would take an increase of about 33 per cent a year in order to raise the average retirement age by a single year.

But currently delaying retirement only results in an increase of 7.5 per cent to pension benefits.

This will soon be raised to 10.4 per cent. However, the new research suggests that these increases will have minimal impact.

The government has this week announced a lump sum option as well; this option was not examined by the poll.

"If these survey results are at all indicative, it appears that incentives are unlikely to be very effective in either getting individuals to retire later or in reducing the costs of an ageing population," said Mike Orszag, head of research at Watson Wyatt.

"While respondents to our survey may not follow through on what they say this survey does allow us to assess individuals' initial attitudes to the perceived tradeoffs and how they say they will respond to changed incentives in the short run. In the longer run there will be learning, which will lead to potential changes in behaviour."