As the economic crisis deepens there is increasing talk about extending the age required for people to enter government retirement systems. Finland is currently debating raising the age to retire from 63 to 65. The ostensible reason advocated for such legislation is that people live longer than previously so it only stands to reason they should retire at an older age. However, the change has many implications. At a time when many corporations are laying off newly hired people, it results in the aging of their workforce. If those at the upper age end of a company delay retirement, it means younger people will have a more difficult time to move up in the company. An extension also fails to recognize that many people have spent their lives engaged in hard physical labor and retirement allows them some momentary physical rest at a time when their bodies are more prone to wear out.
Perhaps, it is time to recognize that retirement will be for those with greater wealth, a long time in which to live and without meaningful work or activities it will result in emotional issues. We need to rethink the entire process of retirement and describe in greater detail what being “retired” means in a post industrial society.