Canadian Stats Show Ending of Early Retirement Trend

May 30, 2006 ( - Statistics Canada says the trend of early retirement, which peaked in the 1990s, is ending.

The Vancouver Sun reports that the median age of retirement fell to an all-time low of 61 in the second half of the 1990s, from 65 in the 1970s and first half of the 1980s, but has edged up a notch during the first half of this decade to an average of 61.1 years.

While the proportion of persons retiring between ages 55 to 59 has increased to 30% from 26% in the latter half of the 1990s, the proportion retiring between age 50 and 54 has dropped to 12% from 15%, according to the news report. Thirty-one percent of persons retire between the ages of 60 to 64.

According to the Sun, a Statistics Canada report said the agency expects the retirement age to continue to rise. That expectation reflects concerns about future labor shortages due to an aging population, improvements in the health of elderly Canadians, and increases in their lifespan. All of these factors have resulted in the phasing out of mandatory retirement and prompted calls to end early retirement incentives, including provisions that allow Canadians to start getting Canada and Quebec pension plan benefits as early as age 60.

“The sharp drop [in retirement age] between 1986 and 1987 is likely explained by the lowering in 1987 of the minimum age at which one could draw benefits from the Canada Pension Plan from 65 to 60,” the report said. In addition, it said, the further decline in the age of retirement in the 1990s likely reflected government cutbacks and corporate downsizing, and the use of early retirement incentives to accomplishment that.

The public sector, whose employees are usually the youngest to retire, saw a slight increase in retirement age between 2000 and 2004, according to the report. The retirement age in the private sector was an average four years higher than the public sector. The median age for the self-employed remained close to 65.