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Longer working lives

Exploring the impact of UK State Pension Age rises on the health and wellbeing of specific population sub-groups in a post-COVID context.


The UK State Pension Age (SPA) has risen in recent years to 66 for men and women. The current legislated pathway is for this to rise to 68 years between 2044 – 2046. Women have experienced a much larger rise (6 years) than men (1 year).

This rise is expected to be accompanied by an increase in the number of people in work (below state pension age) with long-term conditions, disability and dependency, a reduction in unpaid carer capacity and, for some, worsening mental and physical health.

Any negative results of longer working lives are expected to fall most upon people who have to stay in work, especially those in low wage and manual occupations, and people living in disadvantaged areas. Added to this is the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on working patterns, which is also relevant to this project.

We will use a staged approach and focus on pandemic and post-pandemic events to increase our understanding of how the rising State Pension Age affects the health, wellbeing, financial and other circumstances of older people who have longer working lives.

Aims and objectives

This project will explore the link between a rising state pension age, and the health and wellbeing of people who have longer working lives, and identify differences by factors such as age, sex, ethnicity, socio-economic position, unpaid carer status and geographical location.

It will also look at trends (and differences across the population) in actual retirement age, and what that means for health and wellbeing, including financially.


We will use a number of methods and a staged approach for this project.

We will review evidence from other countries about the relationship between health, wellbeing and longer working lives. Where we find evidence is limited or absent, we will hold workshops with stakeholders.

We will also look at survey data to help understand trends in age at retirement, and the association between retirement age and health and wellbeing.

Policy relevance

This will be relevant across several government departments, and will inform future policy around the State Pension Age and other related activities such as the Planning and Preparing for Later Life Survey and the Mid-life MOT pilot, for example.

Delivery dates

January 2024 – December 2025



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