ore seniors are staying in the workforce beyond the normal retirement age, according to the latest figures from Statistics Canada.
More seniors were working in 2001 than 1996, and were better educated and worked in a wider variety of occupations.
Seniors at work
found an estimated 305,000 people aged 65 and over were employed in 2001, up from about 255,000 in 1996. This represents a 19.6 per cent increase, nearly twice the 11 per cent growth in the total senior population during the same period.
In 2001, 8.4 per cent of seniors were working, up from 7.8 per cent five years earlier.
The study also showed that overall, working seniors are getting older. Those aged between 65 and 69 still formed the majority (57 per cent) in 2001, but this was down from 60 per cent in 1996. In contrast, about 18 per cent were 75 and older in 2001, up from 16 per cent.
With increasing life expectancy and continuing medical advances, many Canadian seniors live two or more decades after retirement, and more of these years are spent in good health. This appears to be reflected in the rising proportion of working seniors.
The study found working seniors tend to be better educated. In 1996, slightly less than 16 per cent of employed seniors had a university degree. Five years later, this proportion had risen to more than 17 per cent.
In contrast, more than 22 per cent of working seniors had less than a Grade 9 education in 1996. By 2001, this had declined to less than 19 per cent.
The study also found working seniors were almost four times more likely than people aged 15 to 64 to be self-employed. Six out of every 10 self-employed seniors were working owners of an unincorporated business without paid help.
Statistics Canada said the tasks being performed by seniors is increasing as the number and proportion of them working rises. In 1996, half of workers aged 65 and over were concentrated in 20 occupations. By 2001, the same proportion was spread across 25.
Farming and farm management was the number one occupation of both senior men and women in 2001. The second and third most common occupations were in retail trade as salespersons and salesclerks, and managers.
Seniors in professional occupations were most likely to be financial auditors and accountants, general practitioners and family physicians, ministers of religion and lawyers.
Statistics Canada said the division of labour among seniors remains traditional. Some occupations, such as judges and ministers of religion, tend to be filled mainly by men. Others, such as secretaries and babysitters, are taken mainly by women.
Neverthless, from 1996 to 2001, the proportion of older workers who were women rose in a wide range of occupations, reflecting the higher participation rates of younger cohorts. Overall, women’s share of the workforce aged 65 and over increased from 31.5 per cent in 1996 to 32.1 per cent in 2001. Statistics Canada said this share is expected to continue rising as younger working women enter their senior years.