The growth of defined contribution pension schemes has made early retirement less attractive in the UK, giving it one of the EUs higher rates of employment of older people, a report by the International longevity Centre has found.
It said 58.4% of older workers aged between 55 and 64 were in work, against 48.4% across the European Union.
'Unlike some other member states, the UK does not have the same culture of early retirement, and research has suggested that employers are aware of the need to utilise an older workforce in the not-too-distant future,' the Working Longer: An EU Perspective report said.
Private pensions are more common in the UK than elsewhere, and the move in that market from defined benefit to defined contribution schemes 'has reduced both the incentive and ability of people to retire earlier', the report stated.
The centre said the government should therefore put extra resources into tackling ageism and creating jobs for an older workforce.
Europe faces a significant skills gap due to demographic change, it said, with the UK alone expected to have 13.5m job vacancies over the next 10 years, but only 7m young people to fill them.
EU governments had collectively missed a target set in 2001 to achieve a 50% employment rate of older workers by 2010, with only 48.8% of this group in work in 2012.
Between 2002 and 2008, the average age at which workers left the labour market increased only from 60.1 to 61.4 across the EU.
One barrier was that the current cohort of older workers in Europe has low levels of education and qualifications compared to younger groups, the report found.
Employment rates for older workers varied considerably, from 77% in Sweden to only 13% in Hungary.
ILC-UK assistant director of policy and communications David Sinclair said: 'As our society ages, it will be increasingly important to make the most of the potential of older workers. Yet few European governments have got to grips with the challenges of an older workforce.
'Flexible working and opportunities for people of all ages to develop their skills are vital. We must tackle ageism whilst also offering older people the opportunity to retire gradually.'
Hymans Robertson partner Andrew Gaches said: 'The reforms currently going through parliament [in the UK] will mean that state pension age is in part decided by increases in life expectancy across society.
'While increasing state pension age may act as incentive to continue working, there are no guarantees older workers will choose to do so. People will only continue to work if they are healthy enough to do so and policy makers need to consider the issue of healthy life expectancy.'