Here’s a statistic that might take you for surprise: For every three older workers, a vacancy for a young person opens up due to the economic wealth older people create.1
That’s the word from Dr. Alexandre Kalache, an expert on the aging demographic and President of the International Longevity Centre in Brazil. According to Dr. Kalache, “Statistics show all too clearly why we cannot afford to stick our heads in the sand and continue to view older people as a sickly burden rather than a valuable resource.”
Kalache refers to “productive aging” as a means not only to emerge from our current economic setback, but as the only way we can truly prepare for the epidemic of aging populations on a worldwide scale. We already know that the generation nearing retirement age tends to have high educational levels and a lot more experience than their younger counterparts, thus maturity has an important role to play in the future of our economic growth.
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “What if we fail to provide for our ageing population?” at World Economic Forum, April 5, 2012.]
In its global brief for World Health Day (April 7), the World Health Organization stated that good health must lie at the core of any successful response to aging. “If we can ensure that people are living healthier as well as longer lives, the opportunities will be greater and the costs to society less,” the report observed.
The U.S. Social Security program was established 130 years ago, back when few people lived to age 65. Today, few people even expect to retire by age 65. In Brazil, where pension income has been available for only the last 15 or so years, seniors use their money to provide for their families. They buy food and resources (such as a sewing machine) to help their children make a living. Because of this, they are a critical resource to the family, which has a vested interest in keeping them healthy, happy and involved.
While not suggesting that seniors work 9-to-5 until age 95, Dr. Kalache suggests we modify the way we approach work and long-term careers. Workers who live long lives should not burn out, but rather remain productive, innovative, and valued.
Here in America, as well as all over the world, the youth culture is glorified and celebrated. Even in the workplace where experience should reign, youth has its advantages. A recent report by the Global Agenda Council on Ageing Society observed that, “in a society with fewer younger people relative to mature workers, an organization’s ability to succeed may hinge on whether it can attract and retain mature workers.” The publication offers the following recommendations to this end:
• Establish employment conditions and compensation terms that make it desirable to keep working
• Create age-friendly working environments
• Include flexible working practices, such as career breaks, part-time work and flexi-place working
• Encourage health and well-being promotion, such as supervised fitness programs
• Offer continuous learning opportunities to update skills
Whether you work well past traditional retirement age because you need the income or because you simply can’t imagine being idle and unchallenged for potentially another 30 years after you retire, it appears that productive aging is an inevitable part of our future. Articles are published every day about how there are currently jobs available, but employers can’t find qualified candidates to fill them. It just seems like perhaps some of the more valued qualities in older workers have been overlooked.
If you’re considering earned income as a valid component of your financial future after retirement age, give us a call to discuss how that strategy can compliment the rest of your portfolio.
1 Dr Alexandre Kalache, “What if we fail to provide for our ageing population?” April 5, 2012.