Retirement of person aged 55 or over

Status: This standard was approved as a departmental standard on July 15, 1998.


Retirement refers to a person who is aged 55 and over, is not in the labour force and receives 50% or more of his or her total income from retirement-like sources.

Retirement-like sources include the Old Age Security pension and the Guaranteed Income Supplement, benefits from the Canada Pension Plan or the Québec Pension Plan, investment and dividends and retirement pensions, superannuation and annuities.

Person aged 55 or over refers to an individual whose age is 55 years or over.

Conformity to relevant internationally recognized standards

There are no relevant internationally recognized standards.


Additional information

Retirement is ambiguous. Generally it might be said that it pertains to older persons who have left the labour force with the notion of not returning but rather with the intention of living on the proceeds of investments or pension plans. On the other hand, some would argue that retirement is a state of mind having nothing to do with either separation from the labour force or with source of income.

A purist might argue that one must have been in the labour force at some time in order to retire. But in common usage it is doubtful that we would consider retired a twenty-five year old person who has left the labour force and vowed not to return. On the other hand, again in common usage, a seventy-five year old widow, living on her husband's pension would probably be considered retired, even though she was never in the labour force herself.

It is doubtful that a simple question such as, "Are you retired?" would elicit an objective and unambiguous response. Indeed a battery of questions might be required in order to obtain useful data. Generally, such an approach is not realistic since it could not be added to many existing surveys or obtained from administrative sources without adding respondent burden and cost.

Therefore, if we are to produce data on the retired population, for all practical purposes we might turn our energies to the derivation of data from existing and less disputable sources. Some of the parameters of retirement are age, labour force activity and sources of income. These three variables are common to many data sources including the census, a number of household surveys and some administrative files such as tax records.

Some analysis done on the 1991 Census data base suggest that these variables provide useful parameters for the identification of the retired population.

Relation to previous version

  • Retirement of person aged 55 or over July 15, 1998 to current

    This is the current standard.

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