Four in 10 workers fear they will never be able to retire, according to new research.
The goal of a work-free life in old age is just a pipe dream for many amid worries about long-term savings and pensions.
The survey of 1,599 adults found those under the age of 35 were more likely to be resigning themselves to remaining in jobs for life.
There are also vast regional differences. A staggering 45 per cent of Londoners are unable to imagine escaping the grindstone, falling to just a third (32 per cent) of Scots.
Financial expert Rich Shepherd, of consumer analysts Mintel, said: “Too many people have a negative view of retirement, with many expecting their generation’s retirement to be less comfortable than both those who came before and those to follow.
“Rising state pension ages and the struggle to save adequate funds for retirement make it easy for consumers to compare their prospective retirement with previous generations and see that they will have to work longer and receive a less comfortable pension.
“For some, the situation is negative enough to call the very concept of retirement into question.”
Current workers are more likely to agree that they will never fully retire (39 per cent) as compared to those who believe they will (35 per cent).
Those most likely to have resigned themselves to a life of work are aged 18 to 34 (42 per cent), in comparison to around one in three (36 per cent) of those aged over 54.
But while many see no end to a working life, it seems some have their eyes firmly fixed on their ‘golden years’.
One in three (32 per cent) plan to retire as soon as they can claim the state pension, peaking at 42 per cent of men aged 25 to 44.
And while the decision of whether and when to retire is split between different age groups, so too is the vision of retirement.
Overall, almost two-thirds (61 per cent) think that their generation will not have as comfortable a retirement as previous ones, rising to 65 per cent of Generation X, defined as those born between 1965 and 1979.
The pessimism explains why just a minority of Brits own a pension plan (42%), up from 38% in 2015.
Over half (55%) of full-time employees and 42% of men report having any type of pension, but this falls to 35% of part-time workers, 17% of self-employed individuals, and 31% of women.
A fifth (20%) of people expect to use funds from their Cash ISA to help fund retirement, while a third (33%) hope to use money from a savings account.
Mr Shepherd said: “The success of the auto-enrolment scheme in providing pension provisions for millions who previously had none, is perhaps the biggest good news story seen in the financial services industry in recent times.
“However, there remain significant gaps in ownership between demographics, which must be addressed. It should be a priority to encourage everyone to save as much as possible in a pension.
“This means specifically targeting groups falling short such as women, part-time workers and self-employed individuals.”
The study found workplace pension holders are almost twice as likely to make minimum pension contributions (48%) as to voluntarily increase them (25%).
And while 57% are concerned about saving enough for retirement, only 29% say planning is a priority for them at the moment.
Today, just 30% of Brits who aren’t yet retired expect to receive a comfortable income when they retire.
Mr Shepherd added: “Increasing the amount consumers save in their pension will be a priority for providers and the Government over the next two to three years.
“While there is an awareness among consumers that they should contribute more, relatively few do anything about it.
“More could be done to help consumers bridge the gap between knowing that they should save more, wanting to save more, and actually saving more.”