Monday, February 25, 2008

Retiring? What's That?

An article in today's DMN notes that many more people are forgoing retirement these days:
Cecil Lawrence's friends tease him that he's crazy to work at his age. The 90-year-old glass salesman just laughs and suggests that they're even crazier to sit at home and watch soap operas.

"I guess they're content to be old folks," he said.

Like Mr. Lawrence, about 2.7 million Americans are skipping retirement and working into their 70s, 80s and even 90s. Most remain on the job, retirement experts say, not for the money but for the personal satisfaction.

The lifelong workers still account for only 10 percent of their generation, but the proportion of over-70 Americans who have "retired retirement" has edged up since the 1990s as people live longer, enjoy better health and hold less physically demanding jobs.

And the number will only increase with the baby boomers. Seventeen percent say they expect to work indefinitely, though financial necessity will be a bigger reason for their passing up Golden Pond, according to the MetLife Mature Market Institute.
(I like the name of that institute. Thanks to their TV commercials over the years, I'm picturing an elderly Snoopy getting a lift to the top of his doghouse or something.)

And speaking of finance, a widespread adoption of this practice would seem to be good for the economy:
Postponing retirement by just five years would boost the average worker's annual retirement income by 56 percent and add $1 trillion a year to tax coffers by 2045, enough to erase Social Security's deficit, says the Urban Institute's Retirement Policy Center.
That works for me. Anybody else willing to step up to the plate?

Of course, there are a few obstacles:
Older workers bear the burden of convincing businesses that they can remain productive, said William Zinke, a human resources executive who's created a nonprofit group, the Center for Productive Longevity, to change employer attitudes.

"Although age discrimination is illegal, it exists far more than we'd like to think," he said.

Many employers view older workers as particularly expensive, either because they demand higher salaries or incur more health care costs than younger workers, said Gordon Mermin, a policy analyst with the Urban Institute.

But by the time workers reach their 70s, many aren't looking for traditional health benefits, because they're covered by Medicare.
I would hope that our society would someday return to the mindset of older people being a valuable resource and not just a group of people to be ignored or virtually thrown away. Grandpa still has something to offer, and it's not necessarily as a Wal-Mart greeter.

Read the whole thing, as well as some profiles of people who never stopped working.

I think I've said this before, but, as a musician, I have no intention of ever fully retiring. I have older friends in their 70's (and beyond) who still gig regularly, and I've been blessed with the chance to perform with some amazing musicians (Clark Terry and Jimmy Heath) who were nearing 80 at the time. I've often joked that every musician's secret fantasy is to die on the bandstand, at a ripe old age and after a really good solo, and that's not too far from what I'd actually like to happen a long time from now. But in the meantime, this creative person sees no reason to stop creating just because the clock seems to tell other people to stop working.

So when do you plan to retire? Or do you?

This pit stop was the pits: A man in Appleton, Wisconsin was arrested for relieving himself in front of the police station. (One of my good friends goes to school up there, but he hadn't heard this story until I told him just now. He also noted that it was probably around 10 degrees out there at the time; what was that guy at the police station thinking?)

Reeboks for Rover, Fila's for Fido: Police dogs in Dusseldorf, Germany will soon required to wear shoes while on duty--not for cosmetic reasons, but due to the high rate of paw injuries.


Eric Grubbs said...

My father works a lot at 63, even though he retired from Shell a few years ago. He likes working. I like working, but on stuff I feel fulfilled doing. That doesn't feel like "work" per se. So, I have no idea when I'll retire.

Kev said...

That's right--I forgot your dad (like mine) was a Shell guy too.

And happy belated birthday, Eric! That week was pretty crazy with TMEA and all.

Gary P. said...

As I'm just now starting down the road to get a Math Ph.D. so I can teach at the university level, I sure hope I can have it completed by the time I turn 50 (I'll turn 40 in April). I figure that gives me 20 years of teaching, retire from academic life at 70, but keep gigging with Urban Renewal until I drop dead on the bandstand!