Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Work is the new retirement

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-05-18

Regular readers know I don’t see an economic reason to avoid a massive population decrease, so it’s worthwhile having a look at "Working is the new retiring" from The Economist "Free Exchange Blog" (2008-05-18) which talks about a Coyne Partnership study (annoyingly, without a link!!)

The authors conclude that the impact of baby boomer retirement has been significantly overstated

Well, for once I can be more informative than The Economist journalists (I doubt if it will ever happen again):

Harvard Business school has a "Conversation Starter" by the Coynes: The Baby Boomer Retirement Fallacy and What It Means to You, which starts off…

Pundits have been telling corporate America for years that the Baby Boomers will soon create a "retirement tsunami".  But there’s one small problem – the pundits are wrong. As it turns out, there are far fewer than the much-touted "78 million Baby Boomers poised for retirement".  In fact, the growth rate in both the number of new retirees and the total number of retired persons will be less than 3 to 4 percent each year for the next 25 years – and could even be zero.

This in turn points to the number-crunching paper (that you can pay for, but I won’t) "Smaller Than You Thought: Estimates of the Future Size and Growth Rate of the Retirement Market in the United States", which has the following dot-points in the teaser page:

  • The Coyne Partnership has developed the first detailed estimates – by year, by age, by category – of the size and growth rate of the U.S. Retirement Market over the next 25 years by collecting, reconciling, and analyzing data from a variety of sources – and the results of our study are stunning.
  • The actual size and growth rate of the U.S. Retirement Market will be much smaller than commonly believed , and the consequences of this fact – both positive and negative – will undoubtedly be significant for organizations and individuals of all kinds.

Well, that sits with my own feelings: I’m one of the youngest babyboomers (1960 vintage), and have no intention of living for much longer than I’m productive, either working, or doing lots of babysitting (and teaching) so my daughter can work.  My background in pharmacology means I’ll be able to relieve any worries about too long a time as a drain on society.

And if I forget where my toxicology books are because of Alzheimers or something like it, I’ll still have a few lucid moments when high-speed lead therapy is an option.

A great-grandfather died on the job rather than retire, a grandfather starved himself to death rather than rot in a nursing home (after falling of the roof when retiling it aged 89!).  I can’t see why I should be any different.

Besides, with the lack of quality in the education system, especially for IT, there’ll be a huge demand for bughunting that only us escapees from the punch-card and paper-tape era will be able to fulfill!  I’ll probably be flat out finding logic errors until I’m 90 unless graduates are trained better!


7 Responses to “Work is the new retirement”

  1. danny said

    “…I’ll be able to relieve any worries…”

    So you’ve got a set of semi-micro quick fit apparatus have you?

    for some glassware pron.

    I’m thinking of setting up a cone shell ranch … (Cue Frank Zappa, I might be movin’ to montana soon..) “As far back as the 1930s, the Medical Journal of Australia reported the death of a young man after he was stung on the palm by a live cone shell on Hayman Island, off Queensland. Specific reference was made to his death being without pain.” “Conotoxin is possibly 10 000 times stronger than morphine, may be non-addictive and have no side effects when used in tiny medical doses ” …

  2. Helen said

    Cos if you’re topping yourself, you definitely want to avoid something that might cause side effects and addiction.

  3. leafless said

    If work is the new retirement, the economy is worser than one would have thought.

  4. Dave Bath said

    The fundamental problem is that retirement age was set decades ago by looking at when people became “unfit for duty”, and has dropped at the same time that fitness for duty for any given adult age has increased.

    Adding up the increase in the years between retirement and dodderyness, this represents a massive loss of wisdom and economic muscle, unless economic activity (paid and unpaid) is kept up.

    It’s also relevant that early retirement can increase health costs, as the lack of stimulation promotes dodderyness (at least in knowledge workers and the professions).

  5. danny said

    what’s the hl7 code for dodderyness?

  6. Dave Bath said

    Danny: HL7 is a medium, the codes for conditions and interventions are ICD and ICHI. Perhaps dodderyness is in ICD10, while I’ve only got a copy of ICD9. And, before you ask, I don’t think ICHI includes a code for high-speed 7.62mm lead therapy!

    Seriously folks, this is a post on the myth of the economic harm from an ageing population. Further comments away from the central topic will be sent to /dev/null.

  7. […] "Ageing – saving or working more?" (which has an alternate title, a weird characteristic of all Vox posts, of "How should governments finance the demographic shift?") proposes linkage of retirement age to longevity, something I’ve riffed on before with links to respected economics sites. […]

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