Research and analysis

Aspirations for later life (RR737)

Research addresses what aspirations people of all ages hold for their later life.


Aspirations for later life (RR737): report

Aspirations for later life (RR737): summary

This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request an accessible format.

If you use assistive technology (eg a screen reader) and need a version of this document in a more accessible format, please email Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.


By Alun Humphrey, Lucy Lee and Rosie Green

In the context of Britain’s ageing population an important challenge is how to respond to people’s aspirations and ambitions for their later life. Good planning and preparation can have a huge impact on the quality of later life, making sure that people have the financial security and social support networks they need to make the most of their time, yet many people find it difficult to look ahead. There is a wide variety of activities that people can take advantage of as they get older - sporting, educational or social, and the benefits range from helping people make new friends, maintaining or improving their health and fitness, to taking the chance to develop new skills.

This research addresses what aspirations people of all ages hold for their later life, what they are currently doing to prepare, and what enablers and barriers there are to achieving their aspirations. The research focuses on many of the social aspects of preparing for later life and specifically looks at:

  • what might encourage people to start planning for later life in their earlier years
  • what motivates people as they get older
  • whether later life is viewed as an opportunity to do things people were unable to do in their earlier years or as a time to relax and do less.

The research captures these themes quantitatively in order to give an indication of the scale of interest held for various aspirations and provide useful information that can inform how best to help people achieve their aspirations.

The research for this report was conducted as part of the National Centre for Social Research Omnibus (May - July and August - October 2010). A total of 1,867 adults aged 16 years and over took part in the survey across the two waves of data collection. The Omnibus uses a stratified random probability sample which is nationally representative of adults in Great Britain.