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Retirement is not an award

European citizens see a retirement as an award of which we dream about through our working lives. But it is not an award. For many it means lower monthly pay, decline in social contacts and lack of work routines - and eventually a decline in well-being.

As the life expectancy for our generation is already close to 100 years, why would we want to retire in our early 60s?! I believe our generation’s retirement age will eventually be raised to close to 80 years, and that’s right. In fact, we should be able to work as long as we want and the system should provide incentives for people to work longer, which could include part-time options, training and new job opportunities at an older age.

If I’m healthy, active and I can combine part-time work with wonderful free-time activities, I might not ever retire...


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Sweden and Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt are showing the way - as always - by starting a discussion on whether retirement age could be raised to 75.

Such discussion would be needed also in other EU countries. Or even better, how about discussion on abolishing retirement age all together and giving people the freedom and possibility to continue working as long as we want, rather than having to retire in our 60s and trying to survive 30-40 years on a low pension - which will only get lower?

Such a change would naturally have to be combined with incentives that encourage people to continue working longer, ranging from adapting workplaces for the needs of older people to training and offering part-time possibilities that do not reduce one's pension. Work and workplaces can play an important role in promoting healthy and active ageing in Europe - which would benefit both our societies as well as economies - and more must be done to ensure that this is done.

The Swedish debate reminds us that the current discussion on retirement age in Europe is a joke: fighting over whether retirement age should be around 60 or 65 does not reflect the reality that people's life expectancy has increased significantly in the last decades, that many want to continue working and remain active in society, and that our welfare states are on the brink of collapse and radical reforms are needed if we are to make the system sustainable.

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