People aged 65 and over in the UK last year contributed £61bn to the economy through employment, informal caring and volunteering, Age UK reveals.
The number equals 4.6% of gross value added, and 6 times more than the money spent on social care by local authorities in England.
The Age UK Chief Economist’s report found £37bn of the total came from employment and £11.4bn from informal caring. Child care contributed £6.6bn and nearly £6bn came from volunteering.
For the first time there are now more than 10m people in the UK aged 65 and over. A growing number of them – more than a million - are in work.
While some will be doing so from financial necessity, many others want to work for longer because they are in good health. They also find what they achieve at work is valuable and worthwhile.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director of Age UK, said: 'These figures demonstrate the huge contribution that older people are making to our economy.
'To put them in perspective, local authorities in England currently spend considerably less - just under £10bn - on social care for older people.
'Many will be surprised by just how much older people contribute, but it’s time we appreciated that they are playing a more and more important part in creating our prosperity.
'Older people bring a great deal of knowledge, skill and energy, as volunteers and as paid employees, and in doing so they are redefining what it means to be ‘an older person.'
Age UK's Agenda for later life
Age UK today launched its annual 'state of the nation' report, Agenda For Later Life.
It focuses on what it’s like to be an older person in the UK today and the importance of preparing for life after full-time work. This period could last between 30 and 40 years.
Caroline Abrahams added: 'With our rapidly ageing population and the rising State Pension age it’s more important than ever that we consign age discrimination to the past and enable older people who want to continue to work to do so.
'Youth unemployment is a serious concern and some may worry that older people who work are depriving young people of jobs.
'However, the economic evidence is clear that employing older workers does not affect the number of jobs available to younger people.'
Unfortunately, many older people who want to keep working still find themselves locked out of the labour market because of age discrimination.
More than 113,000 men and 65,000 women aged 50 and over are currently out of work for more than a year and are finding it tough to get back into work.
Many others have resorted to part-time work when they would prefer to work full-time.
The Age UK report also reveals that those aged 65 and over undertake the bulk of child care. This is often grandparents looking after grandchildren so that their own adult children can go out and work.
It shows the crucial economic and social contribution older people make, even when not in paid employment.