One of the questions both the elderly and those becoming elderly will sooner or later want to ask, is what makes longevity so desirable in a world where the steady increase in population may outgrow the resources to accommodate both young and elderly.
Longevity and lifetime occupation eventually entitles one to “retirement.” What is the purpose of retirement, when people happy in their jobs can continue to make economic contribution by remaining at work as long as they can and want?
The partial answer to this boarder question as some have begun to point out and have already been thinking about is that culturally retirement is more a word than objective.
What is its substance? Retirement is not a natural goal to be pursed without meaningful objectives. Neither does retirement automatically make all retirees members of the leisure class.
There's a significant cost to displacing people from their productive labors and placing them on a pretty high quality and expensive dole that we call a pension.
First of all their is that loss of social contribution that each individual makes through his/her daily work.
Then there is the social cost of pension and Social Security as a result of idleness and in many cases even health care costs.
These are transferred to and reflected in higher market prices through what today we have been referring to as legacy costs and in payment of taxes to cover Social Security and health care insurance.
We can extend the age of retirement from the age that has been presently established at 65 to 67 as we have begun to do and perhaps even extend it to 70 and to 75. This would not only avoid the loss of economic contribution that people of that age can make but delay and shorten the long term costs of pensions and Social Security.
Those continuing to work at these later ages could be given extend or more vacation time if they want the time. This could come out of their future pensions and Social Security funds. Thus slowly moving into “retirement” and lessening the desire to get away from work or even the desire for retirement itself.
Eventually and on an individual basis people will want to remove themselves from their work or may not be able to carry on. Then they can participate in what many think their time on the job has earned them, "retirement."
But at that later stage then, retirees would earn more in retirement. But the question would remain, what to do during retirement? Maybe they would have learned more about that as they took advantage of extended vacation time.
Next posting, based on this perspective: what does this mean at the local community level?