As longevity increases around the world, the solution of simply working longer is especially troublesome for workers with physically demanding jobs, according to the latest Aegon retirement readiness survey.

“Few countries offer early retirement with benefits for physical workers,” noted the survey. “Accordingly, physical workers must either remain in jobs that may become more taxing for their aging bodies, re-skill into another industry or leave the workplace earlier than they may have planned.”

In seeking to understand the challenges these workers face in retirement readiness, the study delved into their specific demographics. Workers in physically demanding jobs are found in virtually every sector, including agriculture, construction, mining and manufacturing, as well as military personnel, emergency responders and cleaning crews.

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Globally, men make up 60 per cent of physical workers compared with 44 per cent of non-physical labourers. They also tend to be younger, with a median age of 37, which suggests these workers transition away from physical labour as they age, whether that means finding employment elsewhere or leaving the workforce altogether, according to the survey.

As far as retirement outlook, 56 per cent of physical workers said they have a negative outlook based on various factors, compared with 50 per cent of non-physical workers who said the same. However, it’s more common for physical workers to feel an extreme confidence about their retirement, with 31 per cent feeling that way, compared with 23 per cent of non-physical workers.

This reflects the fact that physical workers are more commonly young and male, two demographics that tend to feel more confident about retirement, the report noted.

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Overall, physical workers scored better on retirement readiness. To provide this score, Aegon factored in six measures: three based on attitude (personal responsibility, level of awareness and financial understanding) and three on behaviours (retirement planning, financial preparedness and income replacement).

Globally, physical workers scored a 6.1 out of 10, slightly higher than non-physical workers, at 5.9. While both types of workers scored about the same in the attitudinal measures, physical workers have better scores for retirement planning and financial preparedness.

These scores vary between countries. Canada’s physical and non-physical workers both scored a six. Brazil and China showed the greatest disparity — both countries’ physical workers scored 7.2, while non-physical workers scored 6.4. Japan scored the lowest, with 4.7 for physical workers and 4.8 for non-physical. India had the best scores overall, with 7.6 for physical workers and 7.2 for non-physical.

Read: Longer living Canadians need option of standalone longevity insurance: report

However, the survey also found just 33 per cent of physical workers said they feel on track to achieve three-quarters or more of their desired retirement income. More (19 per cent) physical workers said they have a written plan than non-physical workers (11 per cent). However, Aegon considers that number worryingly low, especially considering 33 per cent of physical workers said they have no retirement plan.

Only 33 per cent of physical workers said they expect to fully retire, compared with 49 per cent who said they expect to change the way they work and 10 per cent who said they expect to keep working the way they do now once they reach retirement age.

Meanwhile, 60 per cent of physical workers said people should expect to continue to work longer as longevity increases.

Read: Five fitness, health and wellness trends for 2019

Copyright © 2021 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on

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