DENMARK - The proportion of healthworkers retiring at the age of 60 fell to just 13.2% in 2008, according to research by PKA.

The firm, Denmark's largest occupational pension fund administrator, revealed the number of active members over the age of 60 has increased by 4,500 between 2005 and 2008.

In 2005, 13,500 active members were aged over 60, while the number of new retirees was 18.9%, however despite the ability for many public social and health workers to retire early, in 2008 18,000 over 60s were classed as active members of a pension scheme and just 13.2% had chosen to take their pension.

Britt Brandum, member manager at PKA, admitted surprise that fewer people are retiring despite being given the option, but highlighted it is positive for society, especially in the health sector as there are labour shortages, but it is also "good for the individual who will receive a higher pension by deferring the retirement age a few years".

She pointed out the vast majority of members, around 90%, are women who have a life expectancy of around 85 years, but while the average retirement among members is about 62 years of age, many choose to retire at 60 leaving a retirement period of 25 years, which Brandum added is a "long time".

According to PKA, Peder J. Pedersen, professor of welfare research at the department of economics, University of Aarhus, and member of the Employment Commission, said the increase in older workers could be a response to the stated desire of employers in the health sector in recent years for older workers to continue working a few extra years to combat labour shortages.

Pedersen suggested that as a result of the lack of workers - estimated at 15,000 by 2015 - "good pension systems" may need to postpone retirement more, although he highlighted each new generation of women have a stronger attachment to the labour market than the previous one, so this could also affect the time of retirement.

The findings follow earlier research by PKA in November 2008 in which it highlighted the expected labour shortage in the health sector, where around 50,000 members are expected to retire in the next 10 years.

A survey carried out by PKA, showed the mass retirement would particularly affect nurses, midwives, medical staff, and bio-analysts as for the latter sector 40% are expected to retire in the next decade, and the organisation called for a more flexible pension system to allow members to continue working part-time with a partial pension. (See earlier IPE article: Danish health workers need flexible pension - PKA)

However Pedersen said although the new PKA figures are positive and a "step in the right direction", he clamed to close the labour gap completely the solution "must be something more dramatic".

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