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Senior Correspondent

Retirement Around the World is an article you should definitely read. It highlights “25 Fascinating Facts” about retirement in various countries. You’ll find a number of these facts intriguing and some of them surprising. And it puts into perspective where we stand versus retirees in other nations.

The article presents a number of interesting facts about the history of retirement. For example, Germany was the first country to introduce the concept of retirement. In 1889, Otto von Bismarck introduced a pension for workers over 70 years of age. Seems to me that 70 years of age was pretty old, for I’m sure that human life expectancy was, back in 1889, a whole lot lower than it is today. I wonder what percentage of Germans got to collect on their pension back then.

In 1935, when the Social Security program began in the United States, Americans’ life expectancy was only 62 years. As you know, the Social Security Administration then set the retirement age at 65 years. Today, Americans can expect to live about 80 years. Due to this increased longevity, the Social Security Administration is currently paying out a whole lot of money. So it’s no wonder that our government is slowly raising the retirement age. And many other nations are doing likewise.

Interestingly, 75 percent of workers around the world are interested in continuing to work after retirement. This is all good and well for the individual workers but it plays heck on the economy. For seniors continuing to work means fewer jobs opening up for those graduating college. Couple this with today’s difficult economic environment, and it’s easy to understand why recent graduates are having difficulty launching their careers.   

This problem may grow still more difficult for recent graduates. Many nations have set up, or are setting up, programs to help retirees find jobs. Japan, which boasts the oldest median age (43.2 years for men, 46.7 years for women) in the history of the world, has set up the Silver Human Resource Center to get retirees back into the workforce. And a number of major corporations in America are participating in a program to employ older people.

Here’s an interesting fact about American entrepreneurialism — in recent years, America’s highest rate of entrepreneurial activity was among those 55 to 64 years of age. In fact, retirees in America, Mexico and Japan are most likely to begin a new career upon retirement. This entrepreneurial spirit is in sharp contrast to seniors in other parts of the world. Those in China, Hong Kong and Brazil think about retirement as a time to slow down and rest. It occurs to me that, we in America, way back a half century ago, also thought of retirement as a time to rest.

I was surprised to learn of the low percentage of seniors living a retirement home. For those over 65 years of age in America, that percentage is 2.1 percent. Lower than I would have guessed. It’s 2.3 percent in Canada and 6.6 percent in Australia. But it’s a whopping 24 percent in the Netherlands. That number for Netherlands is far greater than I would have guessed for any country!

Worldwide, a majority of older adults see a balance between work and leisure as the ideal lifestyle. That is, most would like part-time work and part-time play. Makes sense to me, for the older I get, the more I appreciate the concept of balance.

Conveniently, “Retirement Around the World” includes links to its data sources. So if you’d like to dig deeper into any aspect of the topic, click away.

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