Average Canadian expects to retire at 68: Sun Life

Three years later than predicted in 2010

Canadians have become less optimistic about retirement as the recovery from the global recession continues, with the average Canadian expecting to retire at age 68, according to the 2011 Canadian Unretirement Index released by Sun Life Financial. That's three years later than respondents reported in the same study one year ago.

The downturn has had the most significant impact on the retirement expectations among those earning less than $50,000 per year. They're less confident about being prepared for retirement and expect to retire at age 70, on average. Canadians who earn more than $100,000 expect, on average, to retire at the traditional age of 65.

"We've been tracking attitudes towards retirement through the economic downturn and we're seeing the new vision of retirement for Canadians depends on factors like how much income they earn and how close they are to retirement," said Kevin Dougherty, president of Sun Life Financial Canada.

Those with incomes more than $100,000 are inclined to cite personal fulfillment for continuing to work: 71 per cent say they'll work past age 65 to stay mentally active and 60 per cent say they'll keep working because they enjoy their job or career. Many of those making less than $50,000 per year (68 per cent) say the main reason for working past age 65 is to earn enough money to pay for basic living expenses.

Canadians in their thirties and forties expect to retire at age 67 while those in the 60 to 65 age group expect to retire around 72, found the survey of 3,422 adults from 30 to 65 years of age.

Gender also plays a role in views of retirement:

While 55 per cent of all men and women expect to be working to some extent past age 65, more men (24 per cent) than women (17 per cent) expect to be working full time.

More men than women say they will be working beyond 65 because they want to work (44 per cent for men versus 34 per cent for women), while women are more likely to anticipate they will need to work (67 per cent for women versus 57 per cent for men).

Across Canada, confidence in retirement savings varies considerably, found Sun Life. When asked, "How satisfied are you with how much you are saving for retirement?" respondents in Ontario and British Columbia are the least optimistic:

In Ontario, 27 per cent of respondents answered "very satisfied" or "somewhat satisfied."

In British Columbia, 28 per cent gave a positive response.

Saskatchwan/Manitoba gave the proportionally most positive response (45 per cent), followed by Atlantic Canada (41 per cent), Alberta (37 per cent) and Quebec (33 per cent).

Ontario and British Columbia are also provinces with a low proportion of group retirement coverage (both 41 per cent), found the 2011 Canadian Unretirement Index. Quebec has the lowest proportion, at 39 per cent.

Latest stories