Keep on keep­ing on? You bet­ter be­lieve it

The Southland Times - - Opinion -

Con­sul­tant Ge­off Pear­man’s mes­sage to an In­ver­cargill au­di­ence was that peo­ple are con­tin­u­ing to work past 65 through choice and ne­ces­sity. He’s not mak­ing it up: we have the sec­ond largest work­force par­tic­i­pa­tion of over-65s in the OECD and not al­ways is it be­cause peo­ple are liv­ing longer, health­ier, and still ap­proach the very thought of work­ing with a sense of vim and vigour.

The fact is that we’re a so­ci­ety cop­ing with an age­ing gen­er­a­tion of baby boomers and, for many, per­sonal fi­nances re­quire them to keep work­ing.

Not only be­cause of their here-and-now sit­u­a­tions but be­cause the re­tire­ment years stretch far longer, for far more of us, than they used to.

Back in the day, for­mer In­ver­cargill prop­erty busi­ness­man Louis Crimp had an of­fer of life­time leases for peo­ple who were as­set rich but in­come poor.

Sell their homes, re­tain some of the pro­ceeds for a more plea­sur­able re­tire­ment, and with the rest buy a life­time lease on one of his prop­er­ties.

This would pro­vide them with se­cu­rity of a roof over their head.

When they (one way or an­other) moved on, Louis got the prop­erty back and ev­ery­one was a win­ner, with the rather con­spic­u­ous ex­cep­tion of any­one with stake in an in­her­i­tance.

It wasn’t one of his bet­ter schemes.

For what­ever rea­son, per­haps talked out of it by the kids, few peo­ple took up the of­fer and it soon be­came ap­par­ent that the ex­pec­ta­tions of turnover were astray.

The av­er­age age peo­ple lived to was cal­cu­lated from birth.

But these re­tirees had al­ready ne­go­ti­ated those per­ilous years of, say, youth­ful driv­ing and mid­dleaged coro­nar­ies.

So if 65 years was your start­ing point you were, as a group, likely to live notably beyond the av­er­age life­span.

What we have now is a gen­er­a­tion that is liv­ing longer, and mak­ing up a far greater pro­por­tion of the pop­u­la­tion than be­fore.

So, for all their years of tax­payer con­tri­bu­tion, they have fewer tax­pay­ers com­ing up be­hind them. It would be cen­so­ri­ous, sim­plis­tic, and all sorts of un­help­ful to be scold­ing in­di­vid­u­als for not hav­ing saved so very much harder through­out their lives.

Re­tire­ment plan­ning isn’t solely a mat­ter of per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity, there’s a so­ci­etal, gov­ern­men­tal im­per­a­tive too and our col­lec­tive per­for­mance in this re­spect has been, we’re go­ing to say, im­per­fect.

So there are good, or cer­tainly com­pelling, rea­sons why many among us need to work longer. We all have to deal with that re­al­ity.

The rest of us need to ac­knowl­edge this, and wher­ever pos­si­ble help pro­vide ways for this to hap­pen.

And yes that means putting real thought and ef­fort into the ex­tent em­ploy­ers can of­fer flex­i­ble con­di­tions.

What we have now is a gen­er­a­tion that is liv­ing longer, and mak­ing up a far greater pro­por­tion of the pop­u­la­tion than be­fore.

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