Healthy retirement ages

Readers' Views No 299, Q2 2014
OECD Observer

You say working longer in life is becoming part of a trend, and that it is becoming "more normative to keep working" past normal retirement ("Older candidates, please apply" in OECD Yearbook 2014, But that does not mean a formal retirement age should be allowed to disappear. Just like a schoolgoing age or a voting age, a retirement age gives signals to guide policymaking as well as personal life decisions.

On the one hand, it is a shame when employers push over-50s into early retirement to make short-term savings on their own balance sheets. The cost is shoved onto the public purse, and the older person's skills, experience and productivity are lost. Governments should confront this through tax and other means. It is also wrong if perfectly healthy over-60s should be forced to retire if they feel ready to continue working.

But on the other hand, without a proper retirement age, many older workers may feel under pressure to work on and on, even if unable to. This can lead to mental stress. The prospect of retirement can be motivating too. With a target age, older people have an incentive to plan their retirements; without one, they could feel demotivated. Also, people are living longer, but not necessarily "disability-free", and some older workers may have even older parents or relatives to care for.

So it is important to maintain a retirement age, and not allow it to become "anachronistic", as your your article suggests.

—R J Doyle, Dublin, Ireland

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©OECD Observer No 299, Q2 2014

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