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Retirement: Modern Society’s Most Pernicious Ideal October 30, 2006

Posted by David Bookstaber in Retirement.

Retirement is not just an obsolete concept.  It is downright destructive: By encouraging people to leave the workforce as they enter their seventh decade, we are taking human capital at the peak of its productive potential — with not only many years of training and experience, but also finally with fewer family obligations and concerns for the future — and telling it to just stop producing.

WSJ today has an interesting article on anti-aging research and technology.  In principle the ability to preserve the duration and vitality of human life is wonderful.  After all, the first 20 years or so of human life are almost entirely lost in development of a capable adult.  In most cases, the next 20-30 years are distracted by reproduction.  Ideally, humans reach their peak production potential around age 50, and all the years from then until they become too feeble to work could be “pure profit” to society.  That is, unless society encourages such people to “retire” and halt their production as soon as they are able.


1. federalist - October 23, 2007

Noteworthy material at Marginal Revolution. “What’s an old person anyway? Does it depend on how many years are behind you, or how many years you still can expect to live?”

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