The "Right" To Retire

August 18, 1999

Over the past century, retirement has come to be seen as a right in the vast majority of developed countries. Experts report that such "rights" are written into the constitutions of country after country. And roughly 150 countries have pension systems.

  • Dalmer Hoskins, secretary general of the International Social Security Association in Geneva, Switzerland, questions whether more retirement is what the economies of most countries need -- particularly in Western Europe, where populations are shrinking and aging, with most people retiring before the age of 60 and living 20 years beyond that.
  • Peter G. Peterson, chairman of the Institute for International Economics, argues that early retirement is already undermining developed nations, and predicts they're headed for a loss of productivity, creativity and even general economic health.
  • In Singapore -- where the population is quickly aging -- the government hopes to push the retirement age from 62 to 67, although Singaporeans can take their national retirement plan savings package at age 55 and a fair number of them reportedly do.
  • Globally, the lowest national retirement age is in the Solomon Islands, at 40 years -- a situation experts attribute to short life-expectancies and the pressures of a younger working-age population.

Source: Barbara Crossette, "The Retirement Mentality Vs. Reality," New York Times, August 15, 1999.

 

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