How staying younger for longer is helping the UK economy

Posted in: Wellbeing Last updated: 29 Jun 2012

The over 50s now form nearly a quarter of the UK population, and control most of our country’s wealth [1] and disposable income [2]. It’s this economic freedom that has allowed the generation to push boundaries set by society and stay younger for longer, as they work, travel, socialise and even dress in ways that would previously have been reserved for younger generations.

These so called “super-boomers” are enjoying their wealth and vitality by living life to the fullest, using their considerable spending power to purchase luxury goods, go on indulgent holidays and take part in exciting leisure activities. Companies are eager to get a slice of the action – there’s been a shift in the way many consumer brands are marketing their products, with a lot more emphasis on the older customer. For example, Marks & Spencer and Marc Jacobs are just two of the fashion brands using older models in their advertising in a bid to appeal to a new demographic, and tech companies are also aligning themselves with the over 50s – more and more of this generation are becoming as tech savvy as their children and grandchildren, and are now major purchasers of laptops, smartphones, tablets and so on, as well as having a strong presence on social media, in a bid to stay in touch with friends and family.

"Marks & Spencer and Marc Jacobs are just two of the fashion brands using older models in their advertising in a bid to appeal to a new demographic"

As a result of this spending on luxury goods, over 50s are now pumping over £2.7billion into our economy every year [3], and their demand for the finer things in life is creating jobs in the retail and hospitality sectors.

Super-boomers are also reluctant to give up their independence, choosing to stay active in the workplace for longer – and continuing to contribute to the economy in the mean time – and almost all of those aged 60-65 say they would not want move to a care-home in their later years [4]. Luckily, the majority of this generation are in great health, too, as they endeavour to stay active – going to the gym on average 20 times a year more often than their younger counterparts! [5]

When they do finally retire, contrary to slowing down, more and more over 50s are now opting to start their own businesses. There are over 1.7million entrepreneurs over the age of 50 in the UK today, and using the benefit of their extended experience in the workplace means that these start-ups are thriving; with more than double the chance of succeeding in the first five years compared to businesses started by younger entrepreneurs. [6] These new businesses are also creating jobs and contributing to a thriving economy for the generations to come.

It’s clear that the “work hard, play hard” attitude of super-boomers is yielding results – happy, successful over 50s. Much like the rise of the teenager and youth culture in the 1940s, it seems that in the 21st century, we’re seeing a cultural and social shift towards the over 50s; youth is no longer seen as the ultimate indicator of innovation and freedom. Instead, it’s the adults that have put in years of hard work and are now free of most responsibilities and financial obligations that are having the ultimate good time – and ensuring that our understanding of what it means to be older in British culture is constantly being re-defined.


1 Daily Express, “Superboomers push back over 50s barriers” – August 2014 [online]. Available from www.express.co.uk

2 Yahoo News, “Baby boomer ‘driving the economy'” – August 2014 [online]. Available from www.uk.news.yahoo.com

3 Yahoo News, “Baby boomer ‘driving the economy'” – August 2014 [online]. Available from www.uk.news.yahoo.com

4 Daily Mail, “Superboomers… the over 50’s relishing the good life: Generation is leading subtle changes in society because they are wealthier and healthier than previously” – August 2014 [online]. Available from www.dailymail.co.uk

5 Staysure, “Rise of the Superboomers” – September 2014 [online]. Available from www.staysure.co.uk

6 Smarta, “Olderpreneurs: starting up over 50″ [online]. Available from www.smarta.com

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