Volunteering by retirees is worth £15bn a year, economists find

Think tank says it is vital to recognise the economic impact of unpaid work


Charity volunteering by retired people in the UK was worth the equivalent of £15bn last year, new data shows.

A study by the Centre for Economic Business Research, working with the developer Retirement Villages Group, found that 3.2m people aged over 65 took part in formal volunteering through clubs and charitable organisations in 2020/21.

Retired women contributed voluntary work worth £.7.7bn, CEBR found, while volunteering by retired men was valued at £7.2bn.

Retired people in the south-west and south-east regions of England provided £3bn-worth of that volunteering each.

CEBR’s data shows the total economic value of retirees’ unpaid labour amounted to £32.7bn, once caring responsibilities and unpaid work with local councils was included.

The economic modelling was conducted to “highlight the critical but often overlooked role people aged over 65 have in our society”, the group said in a statement.

Pushpin Singh, economist at CEBR, said: “In the public perception, 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. However, these activities are often unpaid or otherwise informal, and therefore do not enter the calculations for economic output.

“Our analysis shows that activities [undertaken] by over-65s do indeed have significant weight to them, dispelling conventional beliefs while reinforcing the invaluable part over-65s play in building the communities we see today.”

Will Bax, chief executive of Retirement Villages Group, said he believed society “can do more to harness this amazing cohort”.

CEBR estimated the value of volunteering based on the total time over-65s spent on unpaid work and help, and multiplied that by the average wage for a comparable paid role.

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