A survey of 10,000 people tracked by University of London researchers throughout their lives revealed that, when asked about their retirement prospects, 70 per cent fear not having enough to live on.
The National Child Development Study also found that 89 per cent of those surveyed are prepared to work past the state pension age to improve their chances of a comfortable retirement.
A quarter strongly agreed that they would continue to do some paid work when reaching their retirement age if it meant a better standard of living, while another 47 per cent concurred with the view and 18 per cent said they "somewhat agreed".
The concerns are not limited to those with modest incomes, according to the research. More than six in ten people in higher professional or managerial jobs or with a net household weekly income of more than 800 admitted to being worried about having enough to live on in retirement.
Asked what he expected his circumstances would be like by the time he turns 60, one man polled by the study said he would have just retired from his current job. He added: "The mortgage will not yet be paid off and my pension from work will not be adequate to maintain our lifestyle so I will have started a new, lower-paid job, either part-time or in a different field. My wife will still be working part time too."
Matthew Brown of the Centre for Longitudinal Studies, the author of the study, said that paying into a pension no longer appeared to ease people's financial worries. "Seventy per cent of those with one or more pensions are worried about being poor in retirement. That is almost identical to the proportion of people without a pension who are concerned about not having enough to live on."
The retirement crisis will be exacerbated for many by failing to secure the best income possible with their pension fund, Partnership Assurance has warned. It has published new research suggesting that up to eight in ten retirees are likely to receive an annual pension income of no more than 8,000, due to a combination of insufficient savings and poor annuity rates.
Some 90 per cent of people retiring over the past five years have done so with pension savings of less than 50,000, with 70 per cent having less than 30,000, according to Partnership. And using current annuity rates, a pension pot of 30,000 would secure an annual annuity income of just 2,000, it said, with two thirds of retirees potentially missing out on higher income levels by failing to shop around for the best annuity.