Older people in Britain contribute nearly £60bn a year to the economy, according to the HSBC Future of Retirement study.
The study indicates that rather than being frail and in need of care, 75 per cent of people in their 60s feel in good or very good health.
A total of 3.2 million people over 60 are in paid employment in the UK, full-time or part-time, putting in 4.2 billion hours a year.
Across the globe, a fifth of over 60s are volunteers, with more than half giving up half a day a week. In the UK, a total of 792 million hours of volunteer work are clocked up each year.
The research, conducted with Oxford University’s Oxford Institute of Ageing, surveyed 21,000 people in 21 countries and found Britons aged between 60 and 79 contribute £4.2bn in volunteer work, £50bn in family care and £5.5bn a year in tax payments.
It also found that older people give more financial, practical and personal care to families and friends than receive it, saving billions on childcare and helping grandchildren in the property market.
Oxford Institute of Ageing director Professor Sarah Harper says: “The HSBC research revealed that older people make a substantial contribution to the family in financial, practical and personal care and support. The value of this social care and support within the family is enormous at over £50bn or around 3 per cent of GDP in the UK alone.”
HSBC group chairman Stephen Green says: “We are living longer and in many societies living better than ever. This should be cause for celebration but recognition of this achievement is too often buried beneath concern over the funding of retirement.”