Nearly one in five workers in Britain is resigned to the fact that they will have to toil away for a lifetime.
Survey findings published today paint a particularly bleak picture for those people living alone in retirement, with 36 per cent of people who are divorced or separated being expected to work indefinitely.
HSBC's report, The Future of Retirement, is the latest study to highlight the issues facing an ageing population. It found that 31 per cent of people who are widowed also thought they would never afford to retire.
Christine Foyster, the head of wealth management at HSBC, said: "People want to slow down in later life and, while some welcome the chance to stay economically active, many may not. Whereas some people regard a comfortable retirement as a natural entitlement, for a growing number this may not be the case."
The report surveyed 1,050 respondents in the UK. Almost two fifths of retired people surveyed (39 per cent) said that financially they had not prepared adequately, or at all, for a comfortable retirement, with 35 per cent only realising they were underprepared after retiring.
Despite this, just 2 per cent of people in Britain who have not prepared adequately or at all said they would have to go back to work to cover their financial shortfall. Instead, some 44 per cent are resigned to the idea that they will just never be able to make it up.
"Today's workers should prepare for retirement as early as possible to have some certainty for retirement. Life is full of reasons to prioritise short-term spending over longer-term planning, but the sooner people start saving, the less likely they will have to rely on working in old age," Ms Foyster added.
HSBC's study also suggests that even those who do eventually retire might not be able to achieve the retirement they want. Nearly half of retired people who said they have been unable to realise their plans for retirement said this was because they have less money to live on than they had envisaged.