59 years old - the new young?


The pension’s minister in Britain is trying to convince the nation that 59 is not “old”.  The move comes after
a large-scale European study found that Britons on average believe that
old age starts earlier than most other nationalities in Europe do.  Only the Turks view old age as starting earlier - at 55.  The Greeks are the most optimistic, holding that you are not old until you turn 68. 

The UK News reports that the study of attitudes to age in 28 European countries found that
Norway, Sweden, Holland, France, Russia, Slovenia, Poland, Belgium and
Denmark view old age as starting between 60 and 65.  The researchers also found that people in Britain stop being described as “young” at 35.   However, Germans are considered young until they reach 43, and Cypriots until 51.  

Pensions minister, Steve Webb, told Chatham House (a think-tank) that Britain must alter its view of youth and age and accept that people can be active for much longer.   


"The
idea that 59 is old belongs in the past. We need to challenge our
perceptions of what ‘old age’ actually means...It is no longer the time
where people are sitting back and enjoying the ‘twilight’ of their
lives, instead it is often a time for new choices and new opportunities."

Germany was the first country to introduce old age pensions in the 1800s, fixing the retirement age at 70.  Most Western countries now have a retirement age of about 65, but are gradually attempting to push it upwards. However, this is easier said than done, even in countries with relatively low retirement ages.

I think it makes sense that we increase the retirement age as people live longer and more healthy lives.  It
is often as much a disadvantage as an advantage to older people that
they are considered by many too old to work, when there is nothing they
would like better than to remain active and busy in a job.

Perhaps a
solution is to raise the retirement age to say, 70, but remain aware as
a society that some people between the ages of 65 – 70 should be more
easily eligible to receive a sickness benefit.  A
lower threshold category such as “illness or disease caused by old age”
could perhaps be introduced in this 5 year age bracket to ensure that we
are still looking after those who are vulnerable in our society.

Perhaps I am just getting older, but it does seem that people in their 60’s are getting younger and younger, and many I talk to prefer to be in meaningful employment.  It
is also a problem for society if it has to support people for over 25
years of their lives, especially when most countries in the Western
world have diminishing numbers of young people who can actually work
to do this, adding to the problem.

Mr Webb views the situation in an optimistic light, as an opportunity to be grabbed:


We
are now in an exciting world where 11 million of us will live to be
100, where employers can no longer sack people for reaching the age of
65, and where people once considered to be ‘past their prime’ are not
only still working, but in fact are running big business.

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