Guest comment: Early ill-health linked to lower old-age wealth

Since the introduction of pension freedoms in 2015, the decisions people make about how to access their retirement savings at and during retirement have become more complex.

As well as the many financial factors that need to be taken into consideration, people are faced with trying to plan for the unpredictable health transitions they may experience in later life.

The risk of experiencing health declines at younger ages is correlated with levels of wealth.

By age 70 more than half of those in the bottom 20 per cent of the wealth distribution have at least one severe physical limitation, compared to just 16 per cent of those in the wealthiest 20 per cent.

These inequalities can be traced back to pre-retirement, with those who have lower levels of wealth more likely to feel pressure to continue working even after they have developed physical limitations, which further drives this gap.

Once coping with physical limitations, those in lower wealth quintiles are likely to need more support if they are to avoid having particularly poor later-life experiences, as many of the risk factors associated with social exclusion in later life are also correlated with having lower levels of wealth.

In October, the PPI will be publishing the second report in its Living Through Later Life series, which will explore the ways in which people can be supported to achieve more positive later life outcomes.

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