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The contested nature of #retirement in the 21st century

by on March 10, 2017

Retirement as a concept is certainly being challenged and contested. Is it still meaningful? Has retirement become a luxury that only the wealthy can afford? Is it experienced differently by men and women? Does it involve (paid) working?

The Guardian’s ongoing series ‘the new retirement’ by Amelia Hill is looking at the changing nature of retirement and people’s hopes, fears, plans and experiences. This has featured – for example – an article exploring its meaning for five Yorkshire women all at different stages of approaching retirement, what it takes to achieve a successful and fulfilling retirement (‘a budget, good friends, a plan’) as well as an exploration of the history of ‘retirement’ which might point to more flexible notions of retirement age.

Elsewhere in online news, retirement crops up in wider discussions of age at work. This article on the AOL website, declares that ‘early retirement is dead – unless you have one of these jobs’. For the record, these are said to be:

Sportsperson; Soldier; Police Officer; Air Traffic Controller or Firefighter.

What these roles have in common is a requirement of high or peak fitness (mental and/or physical) related to job performance which mean these occupations also have actual or de facto mandatory retirement ages.  We have featured stories about these occupations on the blog – sometimes it’s been a case of individuals who have maintained fitness levels then challenging these mandatory retirement rules (e.g. Kevin Fulthorpe); othertimes it’s been collective action to prevent retirement age being increased (e.g. firefighters).  The thrust of the article is that it might be worth thinking about these jobs simply because of the early retirement (and pension) entitlement. Will we see these issues featuring in careers advice in the future? The retirement debate looks set to continue.

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