Are you ready to work until you’re 100?

Andrew Pegler – 25 June 2010

By 2050 25% of Australians will be over 65 and we’ll have twice as many 80-year-olds. Are you ready to work until you’re 100? Well are ya?

According to a guy called John Beard, director of the World Health Organisation’s Department of Ageing, we could have 100-year-old Australians still clocking on within 20 years. This comes on the back of research that shows more people are postponing retirement due to the fact we are living longer and that living costs a lot more than it used to. It used to be that at 65 you were put out to pasture but those defiant baby boomers are redefining another social icon – retirement.

With populations ageing across the globe and governments rushing to build hospitals and squirrel away money for pensions, this massive demographic shift is seen by many as a dire challenge. However, according to Mr Beard, this doom talk is off the mark because it is in fact a grand opportunity. “Sure, there will be impacts on health service delivery and pensions, but society overlooks the skills and experiences of older people”, he says.

A recent survey in the US reveals that most people of retirement age want to stay employed in some capacity and some US companies are now offering retirement-age types the option of a 1000-hour working year (about 30 weeks) where they can choose to work a few days a month or go full-time for part of the year then take the rest of the year off and play grey nomad. As John Beard points out, “future generations could one day be taking years off work to raise a child, travel or go back to school and then find themselves still working at 100”.

If all this bears out, then expect a significant and sharp impact on the traditional life pattern of education, employment and retirement. With organ and limb replacement science charging ahead we may soon be able to live for a long, long time. Personally this is delightful news because I can now lock in my second career as a Vegas croupier.

And in other news… India inflation alert! Yep that’s right. Inflation there is becoming a big problem and was just revised upwards to an annual rate of 11% in March and 10.2% in May, double the target range. A third rate rise this year is on the cards, which could dampen spending and investment. The knock-on effect is, as always, that country’s demand for our dirt.