In December 2015, 80% of midlife adults were employed either full-time or part-time. The proportion of midlife adults in the paid labour force decreased with age, from 85% of 45–49-year-olds to 70% of 60–64-year-olds.
Career development and remuneration often peaks in the earlier years of midlife, when most women who have taken time out to raise children have re-entered the workforce and are making progress in their careers.
In 2013 the age group with the highest median annual personal incomes was 45–49-year-olds ($42,300). The median income for all over-15-year-olds was $28,500.
Many midlife adults keep working because they have financial commitments, want to maintain a good lifestyle, are successful in their careers and enjoy what they do. They like the companionship, mental stimulation and sense of purpose work gives them. They are happy with their work–life balance, especially when they work part-time. Māori and Pacific people are more likely than others to want to stay at work for economic reasons.
After the 2014 election, the average age of Members of Parliament was 50. People typically become MPs after they have established a record of success in their careers or in community service.
Most people leave work for health reasons or because they want to do something different. About one in 10 leave because they need to care for someone else. Having grandchildren and wanting to spend more time with family are important reasons why midlife adults want more time away from work. More people work part-time as they get older – 18% of employed 45–49-year-olds worked part-time in 2013, as did 24% of 60–64-year-olds.
In 2013, 17% of people aged 45 to 64 had done some voluntary work (other than caring for a child outside the home or for someone with an illness or disability) in the four weeks before census night. Overall, people were more likely to do voluntary work as they got older. Women were more active as volunteers than men.