The current retirement age was defined at a time when people were not expected to survive much longer. , Chancellor of the German Empire, introduced the concept of social security including retirement and disability benefits to stave off advances by Marxists calling for social reforms. The retirement age was set at 70 when the program was adopted in 1889, it was reduced to 65 in 1916. The choice of retirement age was reported to be pragmatic, in that the social insurance system could be maintained sustainably with relatively moderate contributions.
The fact that retirement age continues to hover around 65 years or so in most countries (for men, retirement age is often significantly lower for women) is somewhat arbitrary and does not reflect the ability of individuals to work beyond this age. Frequently, the psychological signal and the economic incentive for retirement drive people to retire although they may not really want or need to — often leading to a drop in self-worth. Many countries have already begun to increase statutory retirement ages. But a more fundamental shift in how we define retirement is probably necessary.
In an article in The Atlantic , Gregg Easterbrook GE Gregg Easterbrook suggests that retirement shouldn’t be a hard-stop at 65 or 67, after which a person no longer works. He recommends a “retirement track” in which active work continues, but at a progressively slower pace, gradually winding down from full-time to more flexible part-time arrangements.
We inherited a gift of 30 extra years from our ancestors just 100 years ago. What we’ve done is tacitly put them all at the end.
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argues for a different approach, which she calls stretching out life. In a talk at Stanford University she argued that people should stretch out earlier life stages, for example delaying the start of a career to devote more time to young children.