We recommend you grab a copy of George Magnus’s The Age of Aging. Mr. Magnus is a senior economic advisor at UBS, and his new book is probably the best “big picture” analysis on demographic trends that we have seen since Philip Longman’s The Empty Cradle. Magnus’s work is a fine complement to our own research, and it deserves a place on your bookshelf.
In the pages that follow, we’re going to quote Magnus on various topics and compare his views to those of our own and of other commentators that we follow.
On the History (and Future) of Retirement:
In the preface to the book, Magnus writes,
Many of the premises on which modern welfare programs were established have changed or soon will. Retirement pensions, for example, were designed to allow people to stop working and enjoy their last few years in relative comfort while making way for new, younger workers. Today, although pensioner poverty is becoming a growing problem…retirement is for many an extended period of state-supported or company-financed leisure, which was never anticipated….
To address these challenges over the next decade or two, it is probable that the role and influence of the state, and what is demanded of it, will expand.
There is no question that the concept of retirement has fundamentally changed over the years. Today, it is viewed as a true entitlement, something that is “owed” to retirees who have spent their lives working and paying Social Security taxes or union dues. But as Magnus points out, it was not always this way. Continue Reading →