The age at which most people retire has been slowly rising for decades, but new research by the professional services firm suggests it has hit its peak: for men it is 66.2 years and for women it is 64.8 years.

That is three years later than the 63.5 years for men and 61.8 years for women in 2004.

According to KPMG economist and report author Terry Rawnsley, it is due to a long-term shift away from physically demanding jobs, stronger labour market conditions, and, since COVID19, more people working from home.

People can access their superannuation by the age of 60, and the Age Pension from 67.

“We saw this big run up in the expected retirement age during the COVID years, and the fact that we’ve hit the brakes over the last 12 to 18 months is the most surprising thing,” said Terry.

“Even in a tight labour market, we may have reached a plateau in the expected age of retirement, suggesting we cannot expect older workers to continue working longer.”

Separate research by super fund Colonial First State to be released later in April delivered comparable results, finding that only 33% of Australians retire by choice. Instead, 28% retired due to health concerns, 11% due to redundancy, and 7% because of their partner’s concerns.

Treasury is warning that the number of Australians aged 65 and over is set to double in the next 40 years, leaving comparatively fewer working age people to cover growing expenditure on health and aged care.

Terry added a later retirement age delivers dual benefits: businesses have access to skilled workers for longer, while workers also pay tax for longer, alleviating some pressure on a tax system that leans heavily on income tax.

“Back in the 1970s, a man would have retired at 66.3, he would have lived for five more years and died,” he said.

Today, they are more likely to technically retire at that age but continue doing some form of work and live another 20 years past retirement.

“Every year beyond 65 [that people put off retirement] is a bonus because it’s creating more of a tax pool to draw on and reducing the tax burden on the expenditure side.

“Every time this number ticks up, younger people should be feeling good that older generations are working longer.”