Financial Times Letter to the Editor

Reimagining retirement for economic longevity

Brenden Greeley’s “The economy is king in Donald Trump’s re-election bid” (Opinion, December 20) accurately and optimistically concludes that our US economy will “get [another] massive wave of hiring around mid-year”.

But in his earlier, also accurate assessment that “working age adults continue to join the workforce” he misses another, equally powerful piece of the puzzle: for employers and policymakers in any growth economy to take the necessary 21st-century step of opening jobs to those of us over the quaint 20th-century retirement age of 60 or so.

Aegon-OECD surveys tell us that about 72 per cent of us in and around 20th-century retirement age want to keep working, if flexibly and different from 20th-century norms. And, a recent analysis out of the UK’s International Longevity Centre reports, “ . . . neglected opportunity of ageing could add 2 per cent to UK GDP . . . [from] spending, working and earning power”. Nor should we overlook the growing evidence that working into our sixties, seventies and eighties is good for our health and therefore has a positive impact on the otherwise exploding health costs that traditionally come with age.

America’s experiment in constructing a 21st-century solid-growth economy does have fiscal and monetary policy that has correlated with Mr Greeley’s “2019 data that has been hard to explain”.

But it can be extended by reimagining work as we age. Lessons for America and global economic growth will be consequential, considering the 1bn over 60 on the planet that will double by mid-century, and who can become powerful contributors to economic growth.

Perhaps even more important, in America and all societies as they modernise, there is the parallel trend of stunningly low birth-rates leading to the fact of more old than young and, therefore, a profound disproportion of traditional “old” to conventional “working age”.

Expanding our idea of “working age” must be part of the next step in Mr Greeley’s kind description of our economic experiment with relevance far outside America or this years’ experience.

Michael W. Hodin
Chief Executive, Global Coalition on Aging,
New York, NY, US

Source: Financial Times

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