retirement past

In an opinion piece for the Sydney Morning Herald, Elizabeth Henderson ponders how long we can expect “retirement” to be a given, before it goes the way of the fax machine and disappears completely, leaving future generations asking, “what’s ‘retirement’?”

“A recent ad features a child and his grandfather visiting a museum exhibit of a couple driving in a convertible,” Henderson writes. “‘What are they doing grandpa?’ the child asks. ‘They’re in retirement,’ grandpa responds longingly. Grandpa may well have had to explain the exhibit to his own grandfather too.”

When it was introduced in the early 1900s by the Australian Government, the aged pension was granted to those lucky few who made it to 60 – but fewer still lived long enough to enjoy it more than 10 years, maximum. Today, with Australians expecting to live well into their late 80s and beyond, many experts believe “retirement age” will need to be pushed back further and further in order to accommodate financially for those extra decades.

“Increasing the pension age to 70 (well below what's realistic) should be a no-brainer, not a political football,” she believes. “A bigger political challenge is restructuring super so it works. Tinkering with tax rates and concessions, contributions caps and limits doesn't address structural deficiencies caused by 21st century demographics.

“Most likely, we'll choose to return to our forbears' practice of working as long as we can,” Henderson concludes. “Like the fax machine, "retirement" may prove to be a transitory innovation.”

Tell us in the comments, what are your thoughts on this new opinion? Do you think younger generations will have any hope of a traditional retirement?

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