Living longer means working longer, obviously

· by Steve · Read in about 2 min · (399 Words)

So, in our local juristiction we’re finally having the discussion about retirement age, ie raising it to 67 by 2031, and probably higher than that later (not mentioned yet, but it’s bound to happen). Somehow, this is a shock to some people.

The fact is that the welfare system, retirement packages, and  even the economy in general were just not constructed on the understanding that an increasing number of people would be retired for up to one third of their life. The retirement age of 65 was set on the understanding that not everyone would make it, and those that did would maybe have 5-10 years, it just can’t cope with people being retired for 20-25 years on average, as it will almost certainly be in 20 years time.

I actually think 67 is being conservative - I’m personally expecting to have to work until I’m 70, and provided I still have my marbles, I’d actually welcome that in many ways; I do think that being active keeps you sharp, and work-related things for me are the best way to stay on the ball. I also think that we need to think differently about retirement; in the days of people living longer I don’t think a simplistic 2-speed arrangement - ‘work’ and ‘retirement’ - really fits with how people live anymore. In practice, a lot of people switch careers one or more times, quit and start businesses, take a gear shift when their kids grow up or their mortgage is paid off, all before ‘proper’ retirement, so how about supporting that kind of multi-stage transition in the ‘retirement’ structure? People in the armed forces or police have that sort of arrangement already; they generally retire from the service with a pension in their late forties or early fifties, and then carry on doing something else between then and state retirement, allowing them some level of security while still being economically active. That sort of ‘staged’ approach seems more suitable to me in a situation where people are living longer lives.

What’s clear though is that things can’t stay the way they are; people who thought the current retirement age could continue as it is were frankly being incredibly naive. In the end, would you rather:

  • Work longer
  • Pay higher taxes
  • Be forced to smoke 40-a-day, or partake in high-risk recreational activites to thin the ranks?

Them’s your choices 😉