The unpaid services they offer to charities, schools, activity groups like the Scouts and Girl Guides and their families are worth two per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. The findings highlight the critical but often overlooked role the over 65s play in society and the economy, says the Centre of Economic and Business Research (CEBR).
Its report – commissioned by the Retirement Villages Group – found 8.6 million pensioners volunteering in some capacity in 2020/21 – contributing an economic boost of £32.7billion.
There are also a million older people acting as informal carers to loved ones, whether looking after grandchildren or caring for relatives, which has an economic value of £15.3billion.
Pushpin Singh, economist at the CEBR, said: “Retired people are often portrayed as adding only limited value to our economy.
“This picture is biased and neglects the fact that retired people engage in a range of socially and economically valuable activities.
“Activities undergone by over-65s do indeed have significant weight to them, dispelling conventional beliefs while reinforcing the invaluable part they play in building the communities we see today.”
Psychologist Jo Hemmings said: “When you give up work it can feel like a huge sense of loss but it doesn’t have to be that way. Retirement is an exciting phase of life, but the emotional jolt of leaving work, its routines and friendship circles, can bring with it loneliness and a lack of fulfilment.
“Getting involved with your local community is the best way to make sure you have the right ingredients for a content retired life.”
The CEBR calculated the total time spent by retirees volunteering in their local communities multiplied by the average wage as per the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) for a comparable, paid role, to calculate the economy-wide impact.
The services included volunteers working in clubs and organisations, those offering unpaid help to individuals or friends and family.
Another way the over-65s “give back” is by serving as councillors on local councils. More than a third (37 per cent) of all local authority councillors in England are aged over 65 contributing £129million worth of time and services.
Pensioners are motivated to volunteer by a sense of purpose once they leave the working world, research found.