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Why Do We Even Have A Retirement Age?

Why Do We Even Have A Retirement Age?

I just read another article about how more people are planning to work past retirement age. This trend seems to no longer be a trend but more of a reality.

It got me thinking – why do we even have a ‘retirement age’?

With the increasing longevity and research starting to show that working may in fact actually be good for our overall health, why do we even have a specific target age to retire?

Should we not be moving to more of a work model that lets people decide when they would like to leave the workforce based on their own personal situation and choice rather than having some age that classifies us as having ‘worked past retirement’.

Maybe if we begin to shift our thinking about work having a specific end point in our careers, organizations might then adjust their workforce models to be more reflective and responsive to individual needs and preferences – regardless of age.

For example, based on the Sun Life’s 2015 Canadian Unretirement Index Report, 27% of Canadians are planning to be working part time at the age of 66. As much as part time opportunities may appeal to older individuals transitioning into retirement it may also be attractive to working families who are having to balance career and family or individuals who need to be the caregiver for a family member. Or what about an option of offering sabbaticals to employees that may want to pursue a specific interest for a short period of time for example to travel, or to support a non-profit initiative or to return to school?

Having these type of flexible working options along with eliminating a specific retirement age could possibly be appealing to individuals of many ages.

We could possibly then shift our focus in our careers from having a specific end point and actually think about integrating work as part of our overall lives with more breaks and flexibility built in along the way.

I realize that the retirement age is often referenced to manage the administration and eligibility of government programs (for example OAS and CPP). But should we possibly then call it age eligibility rather that referring to it as retirement age which is more associated with leaving the workforce?

Just something to think about…

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Susan Williams is the Founder of Booming Encore. Being a Boomer herself, Susan loves to discover and share ways to live life to the fullest. She shares her experiences, observations and opinions on living life after 50 and tries to embrace Booming Encore's philosophy of making sure every day matters.