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September 3, 2008
Montréal, September 3, 2008 – Retirees have changed and their exploding numbers require that both society and businesses evolve. The data revealed by four consecutive editions of the AXA Retirement Scope allow us to draw the emerging portrait of a new generation of retirees, as well as uncover a few directions to better adapt to the phenomenon of an aging population.
In the past, the end of active life meant the beginning of old age. Today, it is the loss of autonomy or illness that heralds this beginning. Our retirees can now expect to enjoy 21 years of retirement before turning old… at 79! However, here as anywhere else in the world, a consensus remains: the social role of retirees is to transfer knowledge and skills. A supporting role in caring for the children also continues to be universally recognized. The new demographic context offers an opportunity to better value these roles in the future.
“It is the whole context of old age that is being transformed,” explains Robert Landry, Executive Vice President, Life Insurance and Financial Services, AXA Assurances. “This transformation is an opportunity for society to fully recognize and actively seek and facilitate the contribution of these ‘young retirees.’ Businesses will also want to understand the new context in order to adapt their products and services as well as their way of doing business – this is the case at AXA,” Mr. Landry added.
Canadian retirees are divided regarding delayed retirement age, although those in favour have increased by 7% since 2004, to reach 42% in 2008. Quebecers remain mostly unreceptive to the proposition (only 29% are in favour). If we consider that 58% of active Canadians would like to pursue a remunerated activity after retirement, the message is clear: working beyond the retirement age is fine, but it should remain a personal, not a forced decision. Interestingly, 92% of our retirees consider themselves able to provide quality work. It will be up to employers to tap into this rich source of experienced workers, although at the cost of offering more flexibility.
Increased life expectancy will most probably force our retirees to care for their aged parents: the fastest growing population segment in the world today is that of the 85 and older! Our new retirees will need to be very self sufficient to finance their retirement, since they will be less able to count on the capital gathered by their parents or the help of children or workers that have become too few. In Canada, it is now generally agreed that individuals are first responsible for financing their own retirement, with the secondary help of the state or employer. Life insurance emerges as a choice strategy: 67% of active Canadians are using it to help finance their retirement. Today’s active starts saving earlier than in the past: in 2004, the average age for preparing for retirement was 34, it now stands at 30. Saving options that offer a good return on investment and that are adapted to all stages of active life will be needed more than ever.
The great majority of Canadian retirees live at home (96%). Our retirees generally own their own home (84%). If 33% of our retirees travel, most remain at home to enjoy their favourite activities. One third (31%) regularly practice a sport; gardening keeps 22% busy, culture and reading, 14%, as is the case for taking care of grand-children or the family in general. Community life is not neglected: 26% of retirees, most often women, do volunteer work.
The new generation of Canadian retirees is in better shape than ever, especially when compared to their counterparts in the rest of the world: 40% of our retirees say they are “in very good health” against only 23% for the international average and 27% for Quebec. Our seniors take an active part in keeping in shape by practicing a sport and watching what they eat. This preventive attitude is good news for the government since many of our retirees (67%) count mostly on public health insurance in case of illness, although Quebec has a larger proportion of privately insured (54% are insured by the state). Not counting pollution, stress is the number one health enemy for 78% of retirees, well ahead of tobacco and junk food. Since stress also affects a large proportion of actives (87%), it is expected that this phenomenon will deserve the special attention of health professionals or public health agencies.
Our retirees appear to feel comfortable with their self-image, and to accept with serenity the physical signs of aging: less than 5% would consider undergoing cosmetic surgery that would make them look younger. While caring of their general appearance, our retirees are also among the least likely in the world to use products to prevent the effects of aging. They seem to count more on a healthy lifestyle to remain young!
Our retirees spend as much time as actives do on the Internet, whether they use it to exchange email messages (86%), find information (82%), carry out banking operations (46%) or follow daily news (49%). They are however less likely to use it for shopping. Already in 2005, 59% of retirees had a computer, 55% an Internet connection and 51% a mobile phone. The cliché of the older person overwhelmed by new technologies now appears be obsolete… Our retirees will be better informed than ever, connected with their family and other retirees and, mainly, able to express themselves!
As an expert on retirement, AXA is also the principal partner of the IFA’s 9th Global Conference on Ageing and Expo Ageing & Design Montréal, that will start tomorrow, September 4, to increase the population’s awareness of aging and its impacts. For further information regarding these events: www.ageingdesignmontreal.ca.
To learn more about the aging and retirement phenomenon, you will find all the Canadian results of the 2008 AXA Retirement Scope (with international comparison), as well as the data from earlier editions of the Scope, on the following website: www.axa.ca
The AXA Retirement Scope is an international survey whose objectives are to explore and understand the attitudes of the population towards retirement and compare its image to its reality.
The survey, whose sample is made up of more than 18,000 actives and retirees, was carried out in 26 countries during the fall of 2007 by a consortium of research firms led by the GFK Group and represented by CROP in Canada.
Analyzed countries: Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Morocco, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Operating throughout Canada, AXA offers its clients, through its 2,200 employees and some 4,000 brokers and consultants, an extensive range of damage and personal insurance products and financial services. In 2007, its sales amounted to CAN$1.74 billion and its net earnings reached CAN$196.1 million. AXA Canada is a member of the AXA Group, a world leader in Financial Protection, whose activities take place mostly in Western Europe, North America and the Asia/Pacific region. Throughout the world, 67 million clients put their trust in AXA. For further information about AXA Canada, please visit www.axa.ca.
Colette Lemieux/Christiane Jacob
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