Third age economy: Healthier, wealthier and with money to live life to the full

Woman riding a bike along a dirth path Third age economy


MoneyPlus Features Team

12th October 2015 at 2:53pm

What’s your idea of a typical retirement – or ‘pensioner’ for that matter? Someone staying home with their feet up, or grasping life by the horns and living life to the full.

If you take the latter view, you are bang on the money. Healthier, wealthier and embracing life to the max is increasingly the norm for those in their 50s, 60s and beyond – those in, or heading towards, what’s now called the third age.

Third age economy – Over 50s have the spending power

With the over 50s having 47% of the spending power in the UK according to ONS*, the third age economy is in full swing.

They have the financial muscle to enjoy life in a way previous generations never could, have the option to travel far and wide and enjoy the wealth they’ve built up. The over-65s in particular are sitting on a lifetime of wealth, including property – or properties – fuelled by several house-price booms.

It’s such a hot topic, The Guardian dedicates a whole section to the third-age economy; and companies – and governments – are increasingly realising they ignore this economically-powerful group at their peril. Why focus on marketing to younger, debt-laden consumers when they are not the ones with the money to spend? The grey pound is where it’s at – with those hitting their 50s, 60s and beyond not only having more money, they’re fitter and living longer.

More are living to at least 100

The number of people reaching the once-magical milestone of 100 in the UK is up by a remarkable 71% in the past decade, says the Office for National Statistics. Another major social change is that around 1.4 million people now work beyond 65. While some need to do so for money alone, others choose to keep working, often in higher status jobs. They may opt to set up their own business using the skills, confidence and experience they’ve built up over a lifetime – possibly with funds released from their pensions under this year’s pension freedoms.

Of course it’s not all picture perfect for everyone in their third age. While many can look forward to their post-work life with plenty of money to do the things they enjoy coupled with a sensible approach to making their money last, others don’t have that luxury and rely on the State Pension to see them through.

And a practical upside of having worked hard to build up a decent level of level of wealth means more Grandparents are passing it on** and not simply as an inheritance. This Bank of Grans and Grandads (sometimes they’re Bank of Mum and Dad too) are helping the younger generation cope with university fees or find a deposit for their first home while they’re still young at heart and able to see the difference they can make while living the life they want to, for as long as they need.

*Office for National Statistics.

**According to a recent report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies,

This blog and any responses to comments should not be regarded as financial advice. Law and tax rules may change in the future. The information here is based on our understanding in October 2015.


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