Early retirement is a specific life goal for 65% of working-age adults around the world, with 70% of Gen Z employees (the highest proportion of any generation) actively working towards this aspirational goal. This compares to just 51% of the over 55s.  

The findings appear in a new study, commissioned by nudge Global, into the financial wellbeing of 11,577 working-age adults from 17 countries around the world.

The results highlight a significant geographical disparity between employees’ approach to early retirement, with 72% of working Americans citing early retirement as a specific life goal, compared to just 40% of French employees. Only 26% of respondents from Japan specify they have this life goal.

Planning for early retirement

Despite the desire for early retirement in some regions and age demographics, when asked in which ways money is important, only 30% of all respondents cited saving for retirement as being important. And this figure drops to just 18% for 16–24-year-olds. This shows that perhaps there is a disconnect between the idealistic notion of early retirement, versus the reality of prioritising saving for it.

Across the globe, 69% of respondents say they have a general financial plan in place to achieve their goals, yet 42% admit this is only an ‘informal’ plan that spans three years or less. However, 70% of Gen Z respondents say they have a general financial plan in place, compared to just 60% of 45–54-year-olds.

Tim Perkins, Co-founder and CEO at nudge, commented on the findings:

I am surprised by some of the findings this year, particularly around the approach that Gen Z is taking about their future. With 70% of this generation citing early retirement as a life goal they are actively working towards, and 70% of them having a financial plan in place to achieve their goals, this bodes well for the financial health of the population in future. It is also perhaps an indicator that priorities around long-term work/life balance are shifting, and shows a new level of cognisance which is a positive trend for peoples’ financial future.

Tim Perkins, Co-founder and CEO at nudge

nudge’s People Director Andrew Mulder emphasises how encouraging and enabling retirement planning supports a healthy talent planning conversation where employers understand people’s career and life goals and can help meet them.

Ultimately, nudge’s study illustrates a growing trend towards early retirement as a major life goal among working-age adults, particularly within Gen Z. Despite a notable disparity in the importance placed on saving for retirement across different regions and age groups, the proactive financial planning by younger generations suggests a promising shift in priorities towards achieving a healthier work-life balance and financial security early in life.

Editor at Workplace Wellbeing Professional | Website | + posts

Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.