Older People

Kaupapahere me te rangahau | Policy and Research

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). Long-term projections indicate a 90% probability of increasing to 21–26% in 2048 and 24–34% in 2073.

This means 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 number of people 65 and over 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. 

Our research

The added cost of growing older: financial impacts of health conditions for over 65s

To understand the financial impact of acquiring a disability and/or long-term health condition after the age of 65, we conducted n=15 interviews with older people who were experiencing at least moderately greater difficulty with a physical condition since turning 65. Becoming disabled later in life should be considered in retirement planning, particularly in light of current pressures on the health system which potentially result in long waiting lists for those without health insurance. The report provides recommendations for increased accessibility to financial assistance.

Impacts on dividing assets following separation after 50

How do people over 50 make decisions about asset division when going through relationship separation? We asked TRA to conduct qualitative and quantitative research to answer that question. The findings explore the wider context and experience of separation, revealing what ‘value’ means in relation to assets, focusing on how KiwiSaver is treated and examining the role of legal advice in the process.


Older People’s Voices: Qualitative research with New Zealanders 65 or Older

This research explores the lived experiences of people 65 and over to better understand their financial situation in retirement. It highlights how valued NZ Super is by most New Zealanders providing a standard of living, security, independence and choice.

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

Older persons forum

In early September 2021 we held an Older Persons Forum as a two-part online event after a COVID-19 lockdown prevented meeting in person as planned for August.

The webinars, presentation slides, and notes from break-out discussions are available.

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.


PPI intern research