The RRIP research explored the lived experience of people aged 65 plus to better understand their financial situation in retirement. The results found that NZ Super is valued by most New Zealanders providing a standard of living, security, independence and choice.

Research shows there are areas of financial concern for older people, including small KiwiSaver balances, poorly performing investments and concurrent increases in costs of living.

The proportion of people aged 65 years or older is steadily increasing, from 495,606 in 2006 (12.3%) to 715,167 (15.2%) in 2018 (Stats.NZ), with long-term projections indicating a 90 percent probability of increasing to 21–26% in 2048 and 24–34% in 2073.

Thus, New Zealand’s population is ageing, as the birth rate is also declining. At 1.61 in 2020 it is below the replacement rate of 2.1 births per woman (Stats NZ).

The 65+ dependency ratio (the number of people aged 65+ per 100 people aged 15–64 years) was 24 per 100 in 2020 and is projected to increase significantly, with the ratio moving to 33-41 per 100 by 2040 (Stats.NZ 2020).

A recent study we conducted shows that retiring at the age of 65 is common but not the norm – indeed 27% of the participants 65 years or older continue to work for pay. This aligns with the 27% of people aged 65 or older in New Zealand who receive personal income via wages, salary, commissions/bonuses or are self-employed (Stats.NZ, 2018).

Homeownership peaks for those aged 70-74 years, at 77.8%, followed by those aged 65-69 years, at 77.2%. While the proportion of people living in an owner-occupied dwelling has declined for all ages (plateauing in 2013), those aged 65 years or older have been impacted to a lesser extent (Stats.NZ, 2020).

Other resources include:

A programme underway by Health and Ageing Research Team at Massey University looks at maximising older worker participation in the workforce. The same organisation also runs the Health, Work and Retirement study, a longitudinal programme which commenced in 2006.

Interviews with retirees on their spending habits

A series of interviews with New Zealand retirees have been conducted to provide a better understanding of what they are spending in retirement. Case studies have been developed exploring each person’s journey into retirement, including any planning they undertook prior to retirement, what day-to-day life looked like as a retired person, their current expenditure, impacts of unexpected expenses, and any advice they would give to those planning on retirement.

Findings show that many ‘sleepwalked’ into retirement, without giving financial or lifestyle planning much thought. Participants suggested that regular prompts to converse and consider retirement plans are necessary, as well as sharing sources of advice, support and case studies.