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Healthy Life

38 Countries Employees Spend Longest, Shortest Time Working

Pretty much everyone dreams of a long, healthy retirement. Your chances of achieving it, though, vary dramatically.

If you make it to 60-years-old, in some countries like Mexico, Colombia and the United States, on average men can only expect a healthy decade — or less — in retirement. Whereas in the likes of France and Luxembourg, men can look ahead to over 18 healthy years in retirement, according to Bloomberg News calculations.

Countries everywhere, though, are battling the same dilemma. As life expectancy rose, governments started to push people to stay in the workforce longer. Yet healthy life expectancy — the average number of years a person can expect to live in good health with no major disease or injury — hasn’t increased at the same pace.

Read More: How a Good Retirement Risks Becoming Just for the Privileged

Here is how the situation stacks up in Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development members — some of the world’s major economies:

The fear for many is that retirement in the future may not be what it was. Retirement length has started to flatline — or even dwindle in some countries — as the pace of life expectancy increases slowly and the effective age of retirement gradually increases.

Indeed, the number of healthy retirement years has already shrunk on average. In 2019, women could expect 16.4 years of retirement in good health, down 1.4 years from 2000.

All of this is before you consider the impact of the pandemic which has decreased life expectancies in a number of countries. In the US, for example, it contributed to the largest decline since World War 1.

Retirement Length by Health Status and Gender

OECD averages

These, of course, are all averages. In reality individuals’ experiences will vary dramatically, with the wealthiest in each country typically enjoying better health later in life.

Unless health outcomes improve, as state retirement ages rise there is a risk that this healthy retirement period will get still shorter as people are forced to try and stay in the workforce longer.

And this analysis just looks at life expectancy for those who’ve reached the age of 60, and as such doesn’t include those who have never made it to retirement at all.

The data is clear on one thing though: it’s pensioners in Western Europe who enjoy the longest, healthy retirement periods. The Americas, by contrast, have some of the shortest.