Desjardins Survey: Planning to ride into the sunset at retirement with your spouse?

A closer look at what prevents couples from retiring at the same time

Toronto, January 22, 2007 — Many workers dream of exotic travel alongside their spouse or partner when they envision their life in retirement, but according to a recent retirement survey by Desjardins Financial Security, close to three-quarters (72%) of couples surveyed indicated they will not be able to retire in the same year as their spouse.

The first reason is quite simple – the difference in ages between spouses:

  • Men are more likely to have to wait for their spouse to retire (34%) because their spouse is younger (56%).
  • One in four (26%) respondents expects their spouse to retire before them, which is more likely to be the case for females (32%).
  • Approximately one in ten (13%) respondents state that their spouse has already retired – particularly workers living in couples without children (23%).

Only three of out ten (28%) workers aged 40 years and older expect to be retired at the same time as their spouses, with the proportion being higher among full-time workers (32%). Other considerations are of a financial nature. For example one-third (36%) of respondents cite financial reasons, such as having to support children, for continuing to work after their spouse has retired.

“For couples with children, 67% indicated that their children still require their financial help to pay for their basic expenses such as lodging, food, education and transportation,” says Monique Tremblay, senior vice president of Savings and Segregated Funds for Desjardins Financial Security. “With a younger spouse continuing to work, there is a better chance the couple can still support adult children where needed, without prematurely using their retirement savings.”

In addition to age and financial concerns however, the survey also revealed other reasons why the traditional picture of couples’ retirement is fading. When respondents 40 years old and over whose spouse’s are already retired were asked why they choose to keep working past their partner or spouse’s retirement, 20% said it was because they liked his or her job or because they owned their own business, while another 12% said it was “to have something to do”.

“The results indicate that there is a willingness on the part of pre-retirees to continue working beyond their spouse’s retirement, but there are several challenges in the ways it can be done,” says Tremblay. “Although our benchmarking data shows that partial retirement is slowly trending downward from 61% in 2005 to 56% in 2006, it still reveals more than half of those surveyed in the forty-plus age group are willing to continue employment, so it is definitely worthwhile looking for win-win solutions for employers and workers.”

Tremblay continues, “We dug a little deeper to find out if employers could contribute at all to the likelihood of these workers postponing retirement and for the first time in the five years we’ve researched this subject, access to health benefit plans resonated with this group. Couples may be finding that in addition to the social adjustments that come with the retirement of one spouse, potential increases in healthcare costs make access to those benefits worth a lot more than the dream of a honeymoon retirement.”

About the Survey

SOM conducted the telephone survey on behalf of Desjardins Financial Security between August 3 and 16, 2006. In total, 1,666 interviews were conducted with a representative sample of Canadian adults. The sampling plan provides proportional estimates with a maximum margin of error plus or minus 2.6% at a 95% confidence level (19 times out of 20). The data was statistically weighted to accurately reflect the composition of Canadians by region, gender and age based on 2001 Census information.

About Desjardins Financial Security

Desjardins Financial Security is a subsidiary of Desjardins Group, the largest integrated cooperative financial group in Canada, and specializes in individual and group life and health insurance, as well as retirement savings products and services. Every day over 5 million Canadians rely on Desjardins Financial Security to ensure their financial security. The Company employs more than 3,600 people and administers $23.0 billion in assets. Desjardins Financial Security has offices in several cities across the country including Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Levis, Halifax and St-John’s.

About SOM

In operation since 1986, SOM specializes in market research and public opinion polls with the Canadian population. The company conducts research activities in Canada, the United States and France. They can be reached at