The ageing population
In the UK the official retirement age of 65 (and the associated budgets for pension provision) were set at a time when average life expectancy was in the low 70s. The retirement age is planned to increase to 67 over the next 10 years, but this has not kept pace with rising life expectancy.
According to the Office for National Statistics, (ONS) a child born today is likely to live to the age of 92, and be “economically active” well into their 80s. (If you are so inclined, you can check out your own life expectancy using the calculator the ONS has helpfully provided!)
Without delving into the full detail, it is clear from the ONS data summarised below that over the next 20 years a reducing number of people of “working” age will be supporting a growing number of “retirees”.
We will also need to be flexible in terms of when and how we work and not rely on the continued existence of 20th century working patterns and expectations…
For example, a very generalised “traditional” working pattern in the industrialised west might consist of an extended period of full time study (at a low cost until recently) followed by work (with a possible break for childcare) followed by retirement as early as 55 in some cases.
What are the implications of these demographic changes for the basic structures of working life that are so deeply embedded in our society?
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