Retirement in flux: Changing perceptions of retirement and later life

May 14, 2012 | REPORTS

Retirement is changing. What it means to be a citizen in an ageing society is in flux.

Older people should expect to work longer and draw upon property wealth to help fund care costs, argues a new think-piece by the International Longevity Centre.

Today, the ILC-UK supported by Swiss Re, launched a think-piece that argues that society needs to abandon the notion retirement marks the point where older people’s contributions are no longer necessary or valuable. Traditionally, our understanding of retirement implies that people make contributions in their working life in return for support in later life. An ageing society, with many people living longer and healthier lives, means that contributions should continue into later life Рas long as society is able to value adequately the contributions that all generations can make to culture, politics and the economy.

Retirement in flux argues that:

  • Older citizens have a responsibility to remain in the labour market, where possible, to enable skills retention and minimise the fiscal burdens on taxpayers. But alongside this, older people should have a right to support from employers, and society more generally, to enable longer working lives.
  • Older people should have a right to remain in their own home. It is vital for the well-being of many older care recipients. But it is fair that older people draw upon property wealth to help fund care costs where possible.
  • Whilst the idea of an obligation to volunteer is contradictory, we all have a responsibility to remain active in our communities. Many older people are eager to volunteer in later life as part of an active retirement and opportunities to volunteer must therefore be appropriate: flexible, enjoyable, and oriented towards utilising the skills older people have developed during their working life.

Retirement should be process rather than an event. The concept of ‘gradual retirement’ may be better suited to the rights and responsibilities of citizens in an ageing society.