April 12, 2013 10:05 ET

The Rise of the Parensioner

- Almost one million adults in the UK are parensioners: people having children in their 40s, 50s and 60s who will reach retirement age while financially supporting young offspring

- 49 and 43 are now widely considered to be the 'cut-off' ages for men and women to have children

- 33% of male parensioners were between 50 and 70 when they became fathers. 6% of women were over 45

- Current average retirement savings of a parensioner would leave them over £2000 short per year compared to the average annual cost of raising a child

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwired - April 12, 2013) - Steve Martin, Elton John, Susan Sarandon, Michael Douglas, Sarah Jessica Parker and almost one million1 people in the UK can, from today, officially class themselves as 'parensioners'[2]. They're the rapidly growing group of men and women having children in their 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond, and will be of retirement age when they are still financially supporting their young offspring.

The rise of the parensioners was discovered during a new study into parenting trends by retirement specialist LV=[3]. In the twenty years between 1992 and 2012, the number of people having children after the age of 40 (45 for men) has risen by 298% for women and 149% for men[4].

Looking at the ages when this group became parensioners[5], one in eight (12% or 65,022) gents were over 60, while a quarter (24% or 135,508) were in their 50s when their last child was born. For the ladies, while the majority (94% or 347,126) were between 40 and 44 years of age, one in 20 (6% 18,781) were over 45 when they last welcomed new life into their world.

Never too old?

The results of the research also point to a marked attitudinal change in what the nation now believes is the acceptable 'cut-off age' for having children. For today's chaps the acceptable last chance saloon for parenthood is now considered to be 49 on average, with almost a quarter (22%) saying 55 is the acceptable cut off point for men. Understandably the age drops for women, with the acceptable cut-off point for having a baby cited as 43 years of age. Today's average ages are both seven years later than the perceived acceptable cut-off age for the previous generation having children.

The top reasons people have become parensioners include:

  • Wanting to have one more child before they were "too old" (32%)
  • Having a child later that they hoped after trying to conceive for some time (24%)
  • Not meeting the right person to have a child with until they were older (20%)
  • The pregnancy was unplanned (13%)
  • The feeling that they were not ready to be a parent at a younger age (13%)
  • The desire to enjoy the freedom of not having a child for as long as possible (10%)
  • Advancements in IVF (7%)
  • The financial demands of modern life, such as getting on the property ladder first (7%)
  • The desire to establish a successful career before starting a family (6%)

The power of the celebrity

In this celebrity-obsessed world, high-profile cases of parensionhood have also influenced when some everyday men and women choose to become parents. One in fourteen (7%) admitted they were directly influenced to have children later in life by the likes of Elton John (65), Sir Paul McCartney (70), Rod Stewart (68), Madonna (54), Steve Martin (67) and the fictional portrayals of parensioners in TV shows such as 'Modern Family'.

However, while 'it's no sacrifice' for Elton John and co., whose kids will grow up in the lap of luxury, the everyday parensioners of Britain face a very real crisis: how to fund their fast-approaching retirement while financially supporting a young family.

Stretching the finances

The potential financial strains of parensionhood are thrust into the light when comparing the £10,593.23 average annual cost of raising a child[6] alongside the savings parensioners currently have for retirement[7], which would give them an annual income of £8,407. That is, of course, if they have a private pension. Worryingly 27% of parensioners confessed to not having put away a single penny for their lives after work.

Nearly a quarter (22% or 219,311) of parensioners have children that will be aged 15 or younger when they reach pensionable age. And many more parensioners will see their retirement years coincide with one of the most expensive periods of raising a child: university. With the average cost of attending university standing at £53,330 over the course of a typical degree[8], that's a considerable outlay at a time when many parensioners will be hoping to rein in spending to make ends meet.

With the impending reality of struggling financially, almost half (47%) of parensioners believe they need to urgently increase their savings and life cover for retirement, by almost £500 per month on average. This would enable parensioners to feel they could maintain a comfortable retired lifestyle and continue to support their young children - something that is no doubt easier said than done.

Considering all of this, it is understandable that almost three quarters (73%) of parensioners regularly worry about how they will cope with the dual financial pressures of parenting and retiring. Sadly, almost half (47%) admitted that money woes have them wishing they'd started a family at a younger age.

Ray Chinn, LV= Head of Pensions, said: "We often see tales of mature celebrities that have become new parents, and now we can see just how many normal men and women are following in their famous footsteps and becoming what has today been dubbed 'parensioners'.

"Everyone has their own reasons for when they start a family, and we didn't conduct this study to judge what age a person should have a child. However, for anyone that is considering bringing little ones into their lives, whatever their age, we would urge them to think about their future savings and retirement plans, seek specialist advice and consider all of the options that will help them sustain their lifestyle and continue to be able to provide for their children on their paths to adulthood."

Notes to editors

1 According to the Office for National Statistics (based on data contained within 'Conceptions In England and Wales', 'Characteristics of Mother 2' and 'Further Parental Characteristics') between the years 2012 and 1992 there were 592,661 men that became fathers over the age of 45 and 396,386 women that became mothers over the age of 40. This is a total population size of 989,047.

2 A 'parensioner' is defined as any man over the age of 45 and any woman over the age of 40 that became a parent to a new child from 1992 to 2012.

3The study was conducted by Opinium Research using custom and omnibus research on behalf of LV=. This included a poll of 520 British men and women over the ages of 45 / 40 (respectively) that had become parents to a new child from 1992 to 2012 and a nationally representative online poll of 2,002 adults aged 25 and over. The research was carried out from 7 - 11 March 2013.

4 According to the Office for National Statistics (based on data contained within 'Conceptions In England and Wales', 'Characteristics of Mother 2' and 'Further Parental Characteristics') in 2012 there were an estimated 35,558 men over 45 and 30,479 women over 40 that became a parent to a new child. In 1992, there were 23,800 men over 45 and 10,197 women over 40 that became a parent to a new child. Comparing the percentage change between the two years by gender equals 149.4% for men and 298.9% for women.

5 According to the Office for National Statistics (based on data contained within 'Conceptions In England and Wales', 'Characteristics of Mother 2' and 'Further Parental Characteristics').

6 According to figures taken from the 2012 'Cost of a Child Report' from LV= the average cost of raising a child from birth to 21 years is £222,458. Averaged over the 21 years this equates to £10,593.23 per year per child. The cost of a child calculations have been compiled by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) on behalf of LV= in December 2012 and are based on the cost for the 21 year period to December 2012.

7 According to the results of the research conducted by Opinium Research on behalf of LV= the average amount a parensioner with a private pension has contributed is £452.22 for an average of 19 years. Based on assumptions made by LV= on investment growth, charges and annuity rates this would give an annual income of £8,410 as at 21/03/13.

8 According to figures taken from the 2012 LV= Cost of University report. The LV= Cost of University study was constructed by Opinium between 18 - 27 July 2012. Opinium identified the top 40 regional universities and analysed public information on fees, living costs, expenses and accommodation

About LV=

LV= employs over 5500 people and serves around five million customers with a range of financial products. We are the UK's largest friendly society and a leading financial mutual.

When we started in 1843 our goal was to give financial security to more than just a privileged few and for many decades we were most commonly associated with providing a method of saving to people of modest means. Today we follow a similar purpose, helping people to protect and provide for the things they love, although on a much larger scale and through a wide range of financial services including insurance, investment and retirement products.

We offer our services direct to consumers, as well as through IFAs and brokers, and through strategic partnerships with organisations such as ASDA, Nationwide Building Society and a range of trade unions.

LVFS is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority, register number 110035. LVFS is a member of the ABI, the AFM and ILAG. Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF.

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