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Kiwis Over 65 Staying In Paid Work Longer

Better workplace flexibility for older workers has been one of the reasons, the Retirement Commission says. Photo: 123rf

There has been a 10 percent increase in the number of years that New Zealanders are staying in paid work, since a mandatory retirement age was eliminated in 2000.

A study by AgeCalculator.com using OECD data indicates New Zealand had the fourth highest increase in the age when workers retire and was the only non-European country to make the top 10 list.

While government superannuation kicked in at 65, people were staying in work longer, with the average age rising to 67 years in 2020, from 61 in 2000.

The findings were no surprise and reflected a positive change to retirement policies that took place in New Zealand 24 years ago, Retirement Commission policy lead Michelle Reyers said.

"New Zealand has got a number of policies in place that actually encourage older people to continue in paid work that don't actually exist in other countries. And this is really giving people flexibility and choice to decide when they're going to exit from paid work."


In some countries, there was a mandatory retirement age.

"And because New Zealand Super is not mean tested, there's no disincentive to continue work beyond age 65," she said.

"So all of these things are playing a bit of a role when you do comparisons with other countries."

She said a 25 percent workforce participation rate of New Zealanders over the age of 65 was also one of the largest such groups in the OECD.

"There are a whole lot of things going on in the background that are actually encouraging ongoing participation in the workforce for older workers in New Zealand."

She said there were also government policies to encourage employers to improve workplace flexibility for older workers.

"We know from research that people are wanting to transition into retirement and not just stop altogether.

"And we know it's really important to eliminate ageism, or age discrimination in the workforce, and really important for training and upskilling for older workers to allow them to continue working if that's what they choose to do."

The Retirement Commission wanted a cross-party political agreement to keep the superannuation age at 65.

In February, Commissioner Jane Wrightson said a superannuation age of 65 was "perfectly affordable" at the moment, but if that changed, access to NZ Super could be income tested.

National wanted to raise the age to 67 from 2044, while Labour was sticking with 65.

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