Final salary pension scheme payouts will reach a record high and peak this year, before a steady decline due to scheme closures, according to figures from the Department for Work and Pensions.
The average defined benefit pension in payment will peak at around £7,100 a year towards the end of 2012 and will fall to just above £2,400 a year by 2060.
Pensions minister Steve Webb said the watershed marks a significant shift in pensions saving and confirms a definite need for workplace reforms such as auto-enrolment.
"A generation ago employers provided final salary pensions and took on all the uncertainty - the perfect retirement solution for those lucky enough to have one," he said.
"With payouts peaking this year, final salary schemes closing and figures that show that only 38% of working-age people are saving into a private pension, it's clear that we are facing a different world in pensions."
Webb pointed to the single-tier state pension as a crucial measure, with one in three people now expected to live to 100.
Currently, around six million pensioners benefit from some form of DB scheme but only 10% of firms have final-salary schemes that are still open.
The DWP hopes that auto-enrolment, which will be introduced in stages from October this year, will see 10 million more people enter pension saving.