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How does the retirement age vary across Europe?

How does the retirement age vary across Europe?

Written by Retirement Line Updated: 22nd January 2024

An international study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2014 found that Britons have the shortest retirement of any major European Union country

In 2022 further research was carried out by the independent think tank, The King’s Fund which found that average life expectancies for men fell between 2019 and 2020. Coupled with the rising UK retirement age coming later this decade, it seems the average person will have less time to enjoy their retirement than the first study found.

After a lifetime of climbing the career ladder and dutifully paying our taxes, the news could well be a bitter pill to swallow for some. But is the grass any greener for our European neighbours? 

To see how our European counterparts are faring in comparison on the topic, we took a look at some European retirement ages by country. Read on to see what age people can currently retire from France and Italy, to Poland and Greece.

Minimum retirement age in Europe

As a baseline for comparison, here in the UK, the default retirement age was once 65, but this has been phased out in recent years. The age at which you are eligible for a State Pension is now 66, but will be gradually rising to 67 from 2026. 

However, in a further blow to future UK retirees, the minimum State Pension age is set to increase again to 68 in the 2040’s. The economic move by the government could shave even more precious time off our prospective retirements.

According to research carried out by the Finnish Centre for Pensions, 65 remains the general retirement age in Europe, including Belgium, Germany, Cyprus and Luxembourg. However, much depends on gender, with men and women still subject to different retirement ages in some countries. These include Austria, Croatia, Poland and Romania. 

To help compare the differences from one country to the next, the table below shows some of the current retirement ages in Europe:

  Example of minimum retirement ages in EU countries  

  Country

  Minimum retirement age

  France

  62

  Malta

  64

  Belgium

  65

  Slovenia

  65

  Germany 

  65

  Luxembourg

  65

  Spain

  66

  Portugal

  66

  Italy

  67

  Greece

  67

  Denmark

  67

Sweeping changes ahead for European retirement age

On a backdrop of economic strain across the Eurozone in recent years, it's no surprise that the retirement age in EU countries is set to rise markedly across the continent in the future. Many of the changes are set to take place over the next decade or so. 

The Finnish Centre for Pensions data reveals that in Denmark, for example, the current retirement age of 67 will increase to 69 in 2035, while in France, it will go up from 62 to 64 by 2030 despite months of protests in the country

In Austria, both men and women will be subject to the same retirement age of 65 from 2033 (currently women there can retire five years sooner at 60). In Belgium, it will be 67 from 2030.

In Germany, the general retirement age for both genders will be 67 by 2031, and for Croatian women, their retirement age will reach 65 in 2030 to be equal with men.

But when do European men and women actually retire?  

Of course, there's another way of determining the retirement ages of citizens across the continent: looking at the statistics for when they actually retire on average. There are certainly interesting findings in that regard. 

According to Trading Economics, the typical retirement age in Europe for men in the EU rose to 64.54 in 2020, compared to 64.41 the year before and 63.92 in 2014. 

The EU's women, meanwhile, retired at an average age of 63.81 in 2020, up from 63.64 in 2019 and 62.86 in 2014

Going by those figures, it makes the latest average retirement age in Europe 64.17 across men and women.

On a country-to-country basis - not purely covering the EU - Greece, Iceland, Italy and Denmark shared the record of the highest retirement age across Europe for men at 67. At the other end of the scale, Slovenia, Ukraine and Turkey all come in with a remarkable low of 60. 

For women, it was again Denmark, Greece, Iceland and Italy that had the continent-wide high of 67, while no other European country managed lower than Russia’s 56.5.

What are the typical retirement ages around the world?

Whilst not in Europe, no comparison of retirement ages would be complete without taking a quick glance at what our neighbours further afield are doing. 

The below table reveals some of the typical retirement ages around the world for men and women, from America and Canada to China and Australia.

International retirement ages

  Country

  Typical retirement age for men  

  Typical retirement age for women  

  United States  

  66.33

  66.33

  Brazil

  65

  61.5

  Canada

  65

  65

  Mexico

  65

  65

  Hong Kong

  65

  65

  China

  60

  55

  Japan

  64

  64

  India

  60

  60

  South Africa

  60

  60

  Australia

  66.5

  66.5

  New Zealand

  65

  65

Source: Trading Economics

According to the above data, the typical retirement age for men and women in the United States rose to 66.33 in 2022, from 66.17 in 2021. 

In China, however, men are enjoying a relatively early retirement – by today’s standards at least – at an average age of 60. Women there are clocking out of work at an average age of 55, unchanged from 2021. 

China has yet to announce a change to its retirement age, though a plan to increase the minimum age in phases will be coming at some point according to Reuters.com. 

In the meantime, China offers one of the lowest pension ages around the world, with a minimum of 60 for men, 55 for white-collar women and 50 for women who work in factories.

Talk to us now about your retirement options 

As you can see, these are interesting times for those of us in and approaching retirement across Europe. During this time of change, when the goalposts marking the end of our working lives appear to be moving ever further away, it could help to have some certainty. That’s when pension annuities come in.

Annuities offer peace of mind in retirement, providing a guaranteed income from certain types of personal or workplace pension scheme savings.

Our friendly Annuity Specialists are here to help you explore your options and check the annuity rates you can achieve based on your individual circumstances. If you’d like to know more about how a pension annuity could work for you in retirement, please get in touch with our experts here at Retirement Line today so that we can help you to make the most informed decisions.

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