The number of women aged between 60 and 64 in work in the UK has jumped by 51% in the last decade according to analysis of data from the Office of National Statistics.
The surge in older women working has come since the female state pension age was raised to 65 in 2010 the research by Rest Less, a jobs, volunteering, and guidance site for people over 50, shows.
There were 644,674 working women aged between 60 and 64 in work at the end of 2009, but in the same period in 2019, the number was close to 1 million, according to the research.
In comparison, the number of working men of the same age has increased by just 13% over the same period, an increase of 127,882.
The rise means that for the first time there are more women aged 60 to 64 in work than not in the UK.
Read more: Number of older workers rising in the UK
Supporting people aged 50 and over to continue working could add an extra 1.3% to GDP per year by 2040, research indicates.
The huge increase is “a seismic shift, with profound implications for the economy and for women in later life,” said Patrick Thompson of the Centre for Ageing Better.
“For many women this will be a positive choice, with work providing financial independence, an opportunity to save for retirement, meaning and purpose.
However, for some women working longer is a response to fears of being forced into poverty in retirement as for some “this will be the culmination of inequalities that have built up over a lifetime, remaining in low paid, insecure or poor quality work and delaying retirement through financial necessity,” said Thompson.
Stuart Lewis, founder of Rest Less, said: “The rapid increase in the women’s state pension age since 2010 has had a profound impact on women in their 60s.
“The employment rate of women aged between 60 and 64 has increased from 34% to 51% in just 10 years.
“As well as adjusting to the financial implications of the new state pension age, the added frustration for many comes from the continued challenge to find meaningful work in their 60s when age discrimination in the workplace remains all too prevalent.
“Demographic changes in the UK are only moving in one direction.
“Progressive employers who start embracing age in the workplace by introducing programmes to attract, engage and retain talented older workers will be the ones who prosper in the coming decade.”
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, told The Guardian: “We are calling on the government to make sure they factor in the reality of life for middle-aged people before making any decisions about further raising the state pension age.
“Age UK is firmly of the view that the triple-lock needs to stay in place, because it is not yet ‘job done’ when it comes to eradicating pensioner poverty – which is now on the rise yet again with 2 million older people living below the poverty line.”