Economic inactivity in over 50s: how significant a factor is menopause?

Published  06 March 2023
   3 min read
  • Sharp increase in older workers leaving UK workforce, with a 42% rise in health-related economic inactivity* in the three-year period between 2019 and 2022
  • Menopause is an underreported factor responsible for workforce exodus of women over 50
  • As well as the collective dent to economic growth felt by losing workers, individuals can face retirement shortfalls of more than £126k

The menopause is a major factor, currently flying largely under the radar, responsible for women leaving the workforce early in their droves, according to mutual insurer, Royal London.

In anticipation of International Women’s Day on 8 March, Clare Moffat, pensions expert at Royal London, comments on a life event that remains largely unregistered when discussing women’s careers and later life savings:

"Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that economic inactivity, when working-age adults are neither in work nor looking, has risen sharply. Tellingly, in the three-year period to 2022, health related economic inactivity saw a 42% rise. While a wide range of health conditions will be included in this, including Covid, menopausal symptoms is undoubtedly a significant one.

"A shrinking workforce causes increasing concern for the government and employers and is stoking fears about stunting economic growth. It’s an issue that the Chancellor will no doubt be keen to address and we will likely hear more on this in the upcoming Budget. However, there remains a lack of support for women in the workplace resulting in an increasing number having to leave the world of work.

"Menopausal symptoms can prevent women from working and saving as much as they would like, with almost a million women leaving their job as a consequence, while many others are forced to reduce their hours. This means women may miss out on important pension savings at a key stage in their life, resulting in them being up to £126,000 worse off, potentially widening an already significant gender pensions gap.

"Ultimately helping to solve the issue, through improving how women experiencing the menopause are accommodated in the workplace, would help them to fulfil their potential and ensure the economy reaps the benefits too."

Notes to editor

* Economic inactivity fuelled long term sickness with a 42% increase in those stating health problems or disabilities in 3 year period between 2019 and 2022 – ONS Labour Market figures

Full time Stop working at age 50 Difference
£355,510 £229,202 £126,308

Royal London analysis: Based on a pension fund of £100k at age 50, earning £40k with 2.5% wage growth until state pension age of 67, investment growth of 5% (not including charges), monthly contributions of 10%.

For further information please contact:

Neil Cameron, PR Manager

About Royal London

Royal London is the largest mutual life, pensions and investment company in the UK, with assets under management of £147 billion, 8.7 million policies in force and 4,232 employees. Figures quoted are as at 31 December 2022. 

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