State pension: How does the UK retirement age compare to Europe?

government is intending to postpone an increase in the UK state pension age from 66 to 68, reports suggest

A planned increase in the UK state pension age from 66 to 68 has been paused, the government has announced.

Work and pensions secretary Mel Stride told the Commons on Thursday that an increase in the state pension age will be delayed until after the next election while a further review takes place.

The state pension age will rise to 67 by the end of 2028, the government confirmed.

It was announced in 2017 that a pensions age hike could take place in the early 2030s, but has proved wildly unpopular with many campaigners, who have warned that delaying the kick-in of state pensions will leave thousands of people in their late 60s in poverty.

State pension age: UK vs Europe

The UK currently shares its state pension age with those in Portugal and Spain, while Norway and Iceland have a higher retirement age of 67.

The retirement age in the Netherlands is 66 and four months, set to rise to 67 in 2024, according to 2021 retirement statistics from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The majority of countries in Europe have a retirement age of 65 or thereabouts, with several enjoying far lower retirement ages than their continental counterparts.

As life expectancy has fallen, the Uk government is expected to delay plans to raise the state pension age. (Getty)
As life expectancy has fallen, the Uk government is expected to delay plans to raise the state pension age. (Getty)

Read more: Plans to accelerate rise in state pension age frozen

On the lower end of the scale, France's retirement age is 62, alongside Italy, Greece, Luxembourg and Slovenia, all of whom enjoy the lowest state pension age of EU member states.

However, French president Emmanuel Macron has announced plans to raise the country's retirement age from its current 62 (if the appropriate pension contributions have been made, it is 67 regardless of whether contributions have been made) to 64 by 2030.

The move has sparked widespread protests across the country, with workers viewing their comparatively lower state retirement age as a right.

However, Macron argues that the country can't afford it. "This reform isn't a luxury, it's not a pleasure, it's a necessity," he said. "The longer we wait, the more [the country's finances] will deteriorate."

Read more: The Paris pensions protests are fast becoming a major crisis for Macron

Protesters hold a French national flag as they stand on the statue of the Place de la Nation during a demonstration as part of the tenth day of nationwide strikes and protests against French government's pension reform, in Paris, France, March 28, 2023. The slogan reads
France has been rocked by protests over the proposed rise of the state pension age. (Reuters)

On the continent overall, Turkey has the lowest retirement age – after president Recep Erdoğan eliminated retirement age requirements from its previous 58 for women and 60 for men in late 2022.

The move came six months before a pivotal election for the president and amid widespread calls to lower the retirement age – as well as a steep drop in living standards during his tenure.

The move allowed around 2 million people to retire earlier than they would have, and means once people have completed the minimum work requirements they can retire at any age.

The chart below from Statista shows the average age at which people across Europe actually end up retiring.

Average retirement age across Europe. (Statista)
Average retirement age across Europe. (Statista)

It shows that people in Luxembourg, Slovakia, Croatia and Greece retire at around 60 while those in Sweden, Iceland, Switzerland, Latvia, Estonia and Romania keep clocking on until their 65.