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What Are the Average Retirement Ages Around the World? | Retirement

Key Takeaways:

  • Global life expectancy is increasing, leading some countries to raise their retirement ages.
  • The retirement age varies significantly around the world, with some countries, such as Iceland, having a retirement age of 67 and others, such as Saudi Arabia, of 47.
  • The shift in the U.S. from company pensions to individual retirement accounts puts more responsibility on workers to save for retirement.
  • Financial considerations like Social Security benefits and health care access play a major role in determining your ideal retirement age.

Global life expectancy improved from 46.5 years in 1950 to 66 years in 2000 and is anticipated to increase to 76 by 2050, according to the United Nations Population Division. As a result, some countries are revisiting their retirement ages and making adjustments.

In 2023, France’s pension reform changed the minimum legal retirement age from 62 to 64 beginning in 2030. However, rules are in place so that individuals who started to work at younger ages are still able to retire earlier. The planned reform was met with protests, some of which turned violent.

Still, France’s new retirement age is younger than the average in other countries around the world. As you think about your own retirement and recently proposed changes to Social Security, it can be helpful to have additional context around global retirement trends and age requirements.

 To understand when people around the world typically stop working, consider the following:

  • Average retirement ages.
  • Average U.S. retirement ages.
  • Changes in retirement funding.
  • Why retirement age matters.
  • How to decide when to retire.

Average Retirement Ages Worldwide

Countries with the highest current retirement age of 67 years old include Iceland and Norway. The current retirement age refers to the age at which individuals can retire without receiving a penalty to their pension after completing a full career, beginning at age 22, according to 2021 statistics from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD. At the other extreme is Saudi Arabia, where the current retirement age is 47. Meanwhile, in Turkey, the current retirement age is 52.

In some Asian countries such as China, India and South Korea, the official minimum retirement age is in the late 50s and early 60s. However, many workers stay employed until their late 60s. For some European countries, along with the U.S. and Canada, more workers, on average, retire earlier than the minimum retirement age.

Country Current Retirement Age
Canada 65
China 60 for men, 55 for women
Iceland 67
India 58
Japan 65
New Zealand 65
Norway 67
Saudi Arabia 47
South Korea 62
Turkey 52 for men, 49 for women
United States 66

Average Retirement Ages in the U.S.

In the U.S., the current retirement age is 66, and the effective retirement age is about 65, according to the OECD. The effective retirement age is the average age when workers who are 40 or older leave the labor force. While this is higher than in some countries, it is also lower than in Japan and New Zealand, where the effective retirement age is 68, and in Indonesia, where it is about 69.

Changes in Retirement Funding

In the past, when workers joined a company and remained with the organization for decades, there was a different approach to retirement. “Previous generations typically had guaranteed pension income to almost fund their retirement beginning fully at a specific age,” said Robert Clements, a chartered financial consultant and accredited investment fiduciary at FDS Advisors in Wayne, Pennsylvania, in an email. In recent years, companies have shifted away from pensions and offered employee-funded retirement accounts such as 401(k)s. “While this came with several benefits for the employee, it also put almost the entire responsibility on them to save enough money to retire, and in some cases pay for their health care,” Clements said.

Given these changes, today’s workers may need to devise their own saving strategy for retirement and decide when they will stop working. “One aspect I emphasize to my clients is the significance of understanding their assets and how they align with their retirement goals,” said Marty Burbank, an elder law attorney and owner of OC Elder Law in Fullerton, California, in an email. “I’ve worked with clients who chose to retire early and found themselves needing to reconsider their estate plans to ensure their assets were protected and would last through their retirement years.” Those who work for more years may have the chance to contribute additional income to their retirement accounts and investments.

Why Retirement Age Matters

There are financial advantages to delaying retirement. If you retire before the age of 65 in the U.S., you’ll generally need a way to support yourself for the following decades. In addition to drawing from retirement accounts, living on investments and taking Social Security benefits, you won’t be earning an income.

When you reach your full retirement age, which for most U.S. workers is age 66 or 67, you can apply for your full Social Security benefit. While you may be eligible for Social Security as early as age 62, the benefit you receive will be reduced. By choosing to delay Social Security benefits, the amount you receive will increase by 8% every year until you reach age 70. You may want to look at the different amounts you’ll receive, based on the age that you apply, to get an understanding of what to expect in retirement. Additionally, Medicare becomes available to U.S. retirees at age 65.

How to Decide When to Retire

Though you may not be ready to retire as early as Saudi Arabians or South Koreans, you can determine your own ideal retirement age based on your well-being and personal finances. “Some individuals are not happy with their job and can’t wait to get out,” said Jamie Upson, a certified financial planner and owner of Stonehearth Capital Management in Danvers, Massachusetts, in an email. “There is also this unknown health status as we age and people want to make sure that they retire early enough so they can check off some of those bucket lists.”

Once you reach 65, you’ll be eligible for Medicare, and your Social Security benefits could be at their full amount when you are 66 or 67. “For many families, they simply cannot afford to retire much earlier because they don’t have the financial resources to accept discounted Social Security benefits if they claim early or the funds to purchase private health insurance until Medicare begins,” Upson said.

Sarah Goldberg
Sarah Goldberg

Sarah is a seasoned financial market expert with a decade of experience. She's known for her analytical skills, attention to detail, and ability to communicate complex financial concepts. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Finance, is a licensed financial advisor, and enjoys reading and traveling in her free time.

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