Being 60 in 2018

Being 60 in 2018

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What does it feel like to be 60 years old in 2018? It is approaching retirement with more or less apprehension, enjoying life, doing what you love, enjoying family and travelling.

Colette, Sherry and Claudia celebrate their 60th birthday this year! They were born in France, England and Germany in 1958, like Alain Chabat, Gary Oldman and Amelie Fried. Their teenage years were marked by shoulder pad jackets, synthetic fabrics, blazing colours, hair styling and glitters.They wiggled on Abba, drove aboard a Renault 5 or a VW Golf and voted for the first time in the elections of François Mitterrand, Margaret Thatcher and Helmut Kohl. They watched Princess Diana’s wedding live on television in 1981.

Claudia approaches retirement with a little apprehension. Colette and Sherry have been retired for two years. In France, at 60, 20% of women and 30% of men have already retired. 60-year-olds in Belgium are in a very similar situation as the French, with men retiring on average at 61.3 and women at 59.7 years old. In the United Kingdom and Germany, it takes another 3-4 years to qualify for a retirement pension. The average age of retirement in the UK is 63.2 for women and 64.6 for men. In Germany, it is 63.3 for men and 63.2 for women.

Time for Retirement

Colette, Sherry and Claudia do not see themselves spending their retirement like their parents who belong to the pre-war generation. They have grown up in a consumer society with different values and aspirations. They do not want to spend hours watching television or babysitting their grandchildren all day long: they want to take advantage of their free time and indulge in the activities that they could not do during their working lives, for lack of time. They intend to use the fruit of their labour to enjoy retirement.

Read the articleTwo different Generations of Seniors

Women have been much more likely to work than in previous generations because the female working population rate has increased in all countries. It increased by 9 points between 1971 and 1991 in France, by 12 points in Belgium, 13% in Germany and 15% in the United Kingdom. This means that couples more often have two pensions, making them the highest-income retirees in France, compared with previous generations.

Beyond work, these women have obtained rights that have allowed them to have greater decision-making power over their personal lives, with different temporalities, however, depending on the country. Abortion, for example, was decriminalized in 1967 in the United Kingdom, in 1975 in France, but it was not until 1990 in Belgium and 1995 in Germany.

Whether they are 1, 3 or 4 years away from retirement, 60-year-olds may face uncertainties about maintaining their standard of living once their activity ceases. Indeed, retirement means for many, a significant decrease in household income. In France, the median income of households between 60 and 64 is, for example, 13% lower than that of the 55-59 age group. Similarly in Germany, households between the ages of 65 and 70 have an average net income that is 16% lower than those between 55 and 65 and are therefore mostly active.

Read the article : In France, the median annual income barely decreases during retirement

A Majority of « Silver Surfers »

Very much connected, Colette, Sherry and Claudia are equipped with smartphones (54% of 60-69 years in France), tablets and computers, on which they regularly use internet (83% of 60-69 years old who have an internet connection at home).

Sign that the use of the internet is part of their daily lives, the Baby Boomers are a majority to go online every day, however, with significant disparities depending on the country. In France, 57% of 55-64 year-olds go online every day (7), compared to 77% in the United Kingdom. Belgians (65%) and Germans (66%) are at an intermediate position.

Retirement, OK, But an Active One!

Colette, Sherry and Claudia are still active and in great shape. Claudia is still working and will be retired in three years. Sherry spends all Wednesday afternoons playing in a bridge club. Colette, on her part, is a member in hiking club. These activities are possible because they are all three generally healthy.

With over 10 years of healthy life years at age 65, 60-year-olds are a majority to continue to enjoy the activities they like:

  • 27 years for women, 11.2 years for men in Belgium.
  • 3 years for women, 11.4 years for men in Germany
  • 7 years for women, 9.8 years for men in France
  • 4 years for women, 10.2 years for men in the United Kingdom

60-year-olds are a majority to continue to have activities that they like. In contrast, chronic diseases affect a significant part of the population around 60 years. High blood pressure, for example, particularly affects Germans between 55 and 64 years, with 28.5% of people reporting this disease against 16.5% of Belgians, 16.4% of Britons and 14.4% of French. But Baby Boomers do not consider these diseases as barriers to their active lifestyle.

Family First

Another important element for Colette, Sherry and Claudia: their relationship with their families. They consider family as a key element to age well, especially since Colette and Sherry have grandchildren. Sherry has 5 grandchildren between the age of 6 and 12 whom she visits several times a week. Colette occasionally cares for her one-year-old granddaughter to help her son out. Claudia has a 30-year-old daughter who has no children and regularly cares for her 85-year-old mother.

Thus, in France and Belgium, 2/3 of people between 60 and 65 are grandparents. In Germany, the proportion of grandparents at this age is lower (47%), a result of the lower fertility of subsequent generations.

Most grandchildren are still young when their grandparents are 60 years old, so they may be required to take care of them during school holidays or in the evening. 60-year-olds are really involved in this intergenerational link. In the United Kingdom, a study showed that 89% of grandparents felt close to their grandchildren and that this relationship, which they liked, kept them in some physical form.

We observed, among grandparents, different attitudes between the 60-year-olds, Baby Boomers, and the older ones, from the silent generation. While the latter consider caring for grandchildren as a duty, the former do not want this to hinder their freedom. Relationships between Baby-Boomer grandparents and their grandchildren are therefore less often in the form of a regular commitment. Moreover, at 60, more than a third of people (32% of Germans between 60 and 64, 42% of French and 35% of Belgians) still have one parent alive.

Advocates of the Sharing Economy

To be 60 years old in 2018 is to project yourself into about 25 years of life while preparing for retirement. A period of life that is the source of many expectations, more or less specific and for which people are more or less prepared. Generally speaking, the transition to retirement, often an opportunity to reflect on personal or family priorities, is a moment of questioning one’s way of life and expenses.

Baby Boomers show this period of life differently than their elders, considering it less like a « withdrawal »: they want to keep taking part in activities, relationships, learning. Thus, some 60-year-olds choose to get involved in the Sharing Economy. Airbnb France has published a special report on hosts aged 60 and more, who are increasingly likely to welcome travellers to their homes and are the best rated. According to the « Baby Boomers and Innovation » observatory, the Sharing Economy is more successful in France, where 23% of Baby Boomers consider for example to use lift sharing (whether as a passenger or driver) against less than 6% in the UK or Germany.

Source : Seniosphère Conseil