Still working after all these years

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I’m a sucker for those quizzes I see online and in newspapers. Like this one:  

Question

By 2050, the world population is projected to surpass 9 billion people, up from 6.8 billion people today. Nearly all of this growth will occur in the developing world.

Which age group will expand the most?

  • Children younger than 15
  • Working-age population (15-59 years)
  • Elderly (60 and older)

Answer

“The age group that will grow the most by 2050 is the working-age population, or the 15-59 cohort.…Other than the working-age cohort, the other cohort expected to increase significantly is people 60 and older.”

Reaction

I almost choked on my seven-grain cereal when I read this over breakfast. Since when are people sixty and older not working? And if they’re not working, does that mean that they’re a big burden on the working-age population? After all, the workers would have to support not only all the children under 15 but also all the elderly (except a small percentage of wealthy elderly). 

Not in the United States! The Social Security Administration defines the “normal (or full) retirement age” for those born in 1937 or before as 65, and that age is being slowly pushed up. For those who turn 60 this year, the normal retirement age is 66, and for those born in 1960 or later, it will be 67.

Admittedly, retiring and collecting Social Security don’t always coincide.  Some people choose to collect Social Security at age 62, but their payments are smaller.  Others collect Social Security while continuing to work past (even well past)  normal retirement age.

According to the U.S. Labor Department, the number of workers over 65 rose 22% from 1990 t0 2000 and will increase by another 30% by 2010.

Why are so many of us still working after all these years? Lots of reasons:  we love our work and can’t imagine not doing it or we want to try a different line of work or we’ve always wanted to start our own business and—more and more—we work because we really need the money.

photo by ifindkarma

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