By 4ni.co.uk and firstrung.co.uk
The UK's over 50s are living a dream life that is the envy of the younger generation but may never be attained by them, according to a major new report commissioned by FTSE 100 life and pensions company Friends Provident.
The Freetirement Generation report, undertaken by social trend researchers the Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC) has revealed a generation enjoying a life of Freetirement, unburdened by debts and free to choose how and when they work and explore new activities.
The report found that retirees in the baby boomer generation, people aged between 52 and 60, have achieved a form of perfect work/life balance that Generation X - people in their 20s, 30s and 40s - strive for but may never afford.
Freedom is the single distinguishing characteristic of those who have retired. When asked about a range of statements they most agreed with, 60% of respondents said that retirement has given them the freedom to do what they want with their life and more than half (52%) said that retirement had given them the opportunity to pursue a passion or hobby.
Nearly a quarter (24%) of freetirees said they had the freedom to choose the type of work they wanted to do, while 22% said they work for social contact and could now enjoy work without the stress and responsibility of the rat race.
Dr Peter Marsh, author of the report at Social Issues Research Centre, said:
"The Freetirement Generation is in a unique position, having lived through a period of relative economic prosperity and booming house prices which mean it now has money to spare.
"Baby boomers are an important economic force. According to some estimates the over-50 population now command approximately 80% of the UK's wealth."
However, for all their freedom and financial stability, the older generation is still marginalised by its younger counterparts. More than half (52%) of those aged over 50 thought their generation was becoming an increasingly important political force in the UK however only two-fifths (40%) of younger people thought that was the case.
The differences were more significant when respondents were asked if older people contributed positively to the UK economy - nearly half (49%) of older people thought they did, compared to less than a third (29%) of younger people.
The report found that baby boomers believed they were ageing less rapidly than in the past - on average they feel physically five years younger than their actual age.
Findings also revealed that the fact that people are remaining physically young for longer had implications for the kinds of lifestyles and values that are being sustained in retirement.
Jeremy Ward, head of pensions marketing at Friends Provident, said:
"It is ironic that some of today's retirees are living the kind of life that those in their 30s and 40s can only dream of - a life of financial freedom and freedom to pursue hobbies and interests with no added burden. On the other hand, our research shows that the Generation X group is experiencing retirement anxiety.
"If today's Generation X'ers have any hope of emulating their parents or grandparents then they need to start planning for their futures now."