On Turning 60, Michael Milken Asks “Why Retire?”

More baby boomers are asking themselves, Why retire?  It’s a cliché to say that 60 is the new 40, but it has some biological and psychological validity.  Advanced biomedical research is leading to continued progress against cancer, heart disease, arthritis, dementia and other conditions that forced people out of the workforce before they wanted to quit.  In the future, aging workers will be healthier and will use broadband technology to live and work from anywhere at the increasing proportion of jobs that involve knowledge rather than physical labor.  They’ll spend more years earning income, often in multiple careers, instead of selling assets.

Fewer people will retire in their 60s simply because they know that average life expectancy at birth is increasing at an astounding rate.  Americans, who could expect to live an average of 47 years in 1900, now enjoy life spans approaching 80 years.  (It already exceeds 80 for women.)  An American who makes it to age 65 can look forward to living almost two decades more.  Worldwide, the increase has been even more dramatic.  In a single century — despite wars, AIDS and other scourges — the global average more than doubled to 66 years.  Nobel laureate Robert Fogel believes it will exceed 100 years within this century.

More than just the length of life, the number of healthy years will also increase.  When people are vibrant into their 80s and 90s, 65 will evolve from the traditional retirement age to a mid-career milestone for those who choose to keep working.  Who wants to retire when you have fulfilling work, when you earn a good income, and when you feel great?  According to a Yahoo! poll, 70% of people over 55 say it’s never too late to start a new business.

 

For the full commentary, see:

MICHAEL MILKEN.  "The Boom Generation Seventh Decade."  Wall Street Journal  (Tues., September 19, 2006):  A20.

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