Almost one in three European workers (29%) would prefer their government not to raise the national retirement age, and would be happy to have less income in retirement. This is according to a new survey carried out by Aon Consulting, an employee risk and benefits management firm.

This research is part of the Aon Consulting European Employee Benefits Benchmark, which surveyed 7,279 workers across Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and the UK.

The Benchmark revealed that 46% of Irish workers, the most of any European nation surveyed, say they never really expected to retire at 65 and expected to be working longer than their parents. This is closely followed by the British and Danish (44%) and the Dutch (41%).

Many governments around the world have raised, or are in the process of raising, the minimum retirement age in their country to help pay for the pensions and healthcare of a rapidly aging population. By 2050, more than 25% of the population in OECD countries will be 65 years old or older, compared to slightly fewer than 15% today.

German workers are the most pragmatic about the situation, with nearly half (49%) saying they will take advantage of financial products on the open market, such as annuities, at their own expense in order to be able to retire at the age they had originally planned.

On the other hand, a clutch of other countries, including Germany, Spain, Switzerland and Belgium, showed a much lower tolerance towards working longer. The Spanish are the most reluctant to retire later, with just 18% saying they have accepted this position.

On average, over a quarter of Europeans accept that while they may have to work longer due to government policy, they will take responsibility for their own financial situation by purchasing financial tools such as an annuity.

Across Europe, people displayed a very high awareness of the minimum state retirement age, with an overall average of nine in ten Europeans saying it was an issue in their country.

Oliver Rowlands, Head of Retirement, EMEA, at Aon Consulting commented:

“The turbulent economic environment of the past few years has really forced people and governments to take stock, look at their and their nation’s retirement plans and evaluate whether they will be ready for an ageing population.

“In the UK, for example, the massive fluctuations in equity markets mean that workers with defined contribution pension arrangements are still not back to the same levels of savings before the financial crisis began.

“Europeans are living longer and more productive lives than previous generations, so it is no longer a given that people should retire in their early sixties. European employers should be aware that older workers bring a wealth of experience and may want to adopt a strategy for accommodating part-time working or job-sharing, for example.

“But employers need to do more than this if they are going to grapple with an ageing workforce. Health and wellness initiatives such as employee assistance lines (a service for employees offering free counseling and professional advisory services), flexible benefits, occupational health initiatives and flexible working days, are all ways of helping to ensure the health and welfare of an ageing staff. “