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Its all about the numbers - retirement age

Weight, height, age, dress size, shoe size, all numbers that we (and the media) use to define people.

I was fascinated by an article from the Leicester Mercury where the age of each witness to a bus crash in January were carefully listed.

Sue Kellett, 56, whose front garden is bordered by the wall, was one of the first at the scene.


Louis…, landlord of the Royal Anglian pub, …..“I heard it first, there was a loud screech, followed by a bang,” said the 44-year-old. 

While I understand the use of age in statistical analysis, why would the age of the witnesses be essential to this story?

I suppose we should appreciate that they were not described as plump, short or wrinkled.  Age is a simple, descriptive leveller.   However, it is true that we define people by their age, not their maturity, natural abilities, skill or experience.   Many brilliant 25 year olds are knocked out of the running for senior roles because they are too young on paper and many over 50 year olds find it difficult to continue to grow their careers.

A favourite expression is it "It is time to hand over to the younger generation" .  Maybe it should be more about sharing, rather than handing over.

Look at all the great sportsmen and women who are becoming successful coaches and mentors.

With scientists now talking about longer life spans, we should all be thinking about how we are going to keep the economy going if people are going to live for 30 to 50 years after current retirement ages.

The highest retirement age I could find was Finland at 68, although I am interested that there are still a number of countries where retirement age differs for the genders.   Earlier for women, although they outlive men in all but 4 countries, based on info from wikipedia. ( Tuvalu, Tonga, Kuwait, and Qatar.)

In the past 50 years, life expectancy has grown significantly.   In the US, from 1930 to 2010, the average life expectancy has risen by 20 years.   In 1930, it was 59.7.   A retirement age of 55 or 60 looked pretty reasonable then.

The Evolution of Retirement states that in 1880, the majority of men over 64 continued to work.   Today it is the minority.  They continue that it is dropping in men between 55 and 64, as well.   When we know that life expectancy is up, we have to assume that we are going to have to raise retirement ages, sooner rather than later.

There is at least one scientist who says that the first person to live to 150 has already been born.

If you are in your twenties right now, this is the time to start thinking about it.

Should you be leading companies and countries in 2054, and you are expecting to live until you are at least 100, what would you like the retirement age to be?                    


Links, Notes and References

Living to 150 years old?
Retirement Ages
Leicester Mercury
Life Expectancy US - 1930 to 2010
The evolution of retirement
Accsys (Pty) Ltd

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