Retirement age for Aussies jumps

We Australians are not only living longer than we were two decades ago, we’re also retiring later. Newly published data shows that Aussies are among the latest retirees in the Western world. And during the past 20 years, we’ve made a big move up the retirement age ‘ladder’.

Analysis conducted by took in figures from countries where OECD data was available for the years 2000 and 2020. That data indicates the average Australian retirement age was 6.79 per cent higher in 2020 than it was in 2000.

That change places us in 12th position out of 51 countries in terms of the degree of increase. In 2000, the average retirement age of men and women in Australia was 59.65, equal with the average in China. That placed us 29th of 51 nations, well behind top-placed Indonesia, which had an average age back then of 70.75.  

Interestingly, Indonesia’s average retirement age has since dropped. In 2020 it was down to 68.95, still well ahead of Australia, whose average retirement age had risen to 63.7. That average took Australia from 29th to 19th in the age rankings. China’s retirement age in that period also rose, but only to 63.05, leaving it 26th on the table in 2020.

Indonesia’s average was still enough for it to maintain the number 1 spot, but its nearest ‘rival’ has changed. In 2000, Columbia ranked second, with an average retirement age of 69.7, 1.05 years behind Indonesia. By 2020, Japan had moved into second place, its average of 67.55 a slightly higher 1.4 years short of Indonesia.

Who are the biggest movers on the retirement age table?

Measuring purely in percentage terms, three eastern European countries have made the biggest jump in retirement age. Heading the trio is Bulgaria. Its rise from an average of 55.8 to 63 represents a 13.26 per cent leap. Next comes Estonia, with an 11.93 per cent rise from 57.85 to 65. Latvia’s average rose from 59.15 to 65, its increase of 10.57 per cent the third-highest.

Our neighbours in New Zealand experienced a rise of 9.84 per cent (fourth-highest) from 61 to 67. That also places them fourth on the age list, behind only Indonesia, Japan and India (67.25). 

Which countries retire youngest?

If you’d like to be part of the early retiree cohort, set your destination coordinates for one of two nations with the initials SA. South Africa tops the list with an average retirement age of just 58.2, followed by Saudi Arabia’s 58.9. Greece (59.5), Croatia and Luxembourg (both 59.75) make up the five countries with an average retirement age under 60. 

Hungary, Türkiye and my father’s home country of Slovakia all have an average retirement age of exactly 60.

What does all this retirement age data mean?

The answer to that question is that it will mean different things to different countries, and even different things to different people within each country. For some, retiring at a younger age is the aim. Others may wish to remain in the workforce longer.

These decisions will be driven by different motivations, too. For some, working longer will mean saving more for retirement. Some may feel that delaying retirement will help them stay healthier for longer – physically and/or mentally. 

Everyone will have their own spin on it, but the numbers are clear on one thing. Australians are retiring later than we used to and the signs are that, in another 20 years, the average retirement age could be higher still.

Have you changed your planned retirement age? What led you to that decision? Let us know via the comments section below.

Also read: How inflation can dent retirement savings

Andrew Gigacz
Andrew Gigacz
Andrew has developed knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income and government entitlements, as well as issues affecting older Australians moving into or living in retirement. He's an accomplished writer with a passion for health and human stories.


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