When I'm 64...

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Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64 ; are the words of a pop song by The Beatles from the 1960s, an era when retirement was just around the corner at that age for most people. Written today and the song may have been different, as retirement ages vary so much. In Japan, for instance, it might have been “when I’m 69”, even if the average retirement age for men has dropped slightly since the 1960s, when it was over 70.

But while the song may ring more or less true for France’s statutory retirement age, in practice, the average Frenchman hangs up his work bottes at just 59. Average retirement ages have fallen since the 1960s in several OECD countries, but the trend over the past 20 years is far less clear. If retirement ages for men fell in eight countries between 1983 and 1999, they rose in eight others. For women during the same period, retirement ages rose in six countries, but fell in nine. The result is that the average retirement age in OECD countries changed little between 1983-88 and 1994-99, at close to 62 for both men and women, although women were retiring slightly earlier than before and men slightly later. Maybe the Beatles’ song would not be that much out of place today after all.

Society at a Glance, OECD, 2001.

©OECD Observer No 230, January 2002

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