"Let life enchant you again." - Fernando Gros
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Blog // Productivity
July 10, 2005

The Future Of Retirement

How will the concept of retirement change in the coming years. Will my generation even be able to retire one day?

Here’s a bit of futurism for you: by the time people born in the 60s start to turn 60 (i.e., 2020), full-time retirement at the age of 60 or 65 will be the exception, rather than the rule. If you are my age or younger then the odds are you won’t retire like you’ve seen your parents or grandparents retire.

The good news is this may be by choice. People will choose to rethink their working and living patterns. There will be increased opportunities for second and third careers. Rather than suspend work at an arbitrary age many will see midlife and beyond as the chance to take on different challenges. Or give back to their community. Others will continue to question the logic of stopping work they find stimulating and interesting.

However, the bad news is some may not have a choice. With defined-benefit pensions a thing of the past and social security being eroded many will not be able to afford to retire. The lack of savings (or losing savings due to bourse-instability) and frequently eroded income potential in later midlife (through job insecurity) will leave large numbers of people unable to fund a conventional retirement. Unless we as a generation (or set of generations) cut back on our consumerism, we will still need huge nest-eggs to live into old age . Many will not have enough.

The world starts to look rather different if you start to add 10-15 years to your working life. It suddenly looks absurd to pressure teenagers into choosing a “career” before they have even finished school. It’s also absurd to put off important and enjoyable life experiences for a retirement that may never happen. Family, travel, where you live, all start to come under question if you accept that you might never retire.

The whole notion of retirement could be abandoned, or at least radically rethought. Maybe the notion of taking longer breaks or sabbaticals from work through midlife to retain health and focus will become more fashionable. Certainly it is easy to imagine not retiring if your work is fulfilling and flourishing. And for many it is not. So, on the flipside, maybe we will become more accustomed to seeing older and older folks working low paying jobs we once assumed would go to school-leavers and the unskilled. I ‘m not sure. Whatever happens, I’m pretty certain most people under 40 will not see the kind of retirement they might have imagined when they started work.

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