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We revisited an Institute for Future Studies (IFR) Scan from a few months ago, and enjoyed an insert that dealt with the changing conversation about what constitutes retirement age.

It’s of particular interest to entrepreneurs as they think about their future selves.

The central tension is this: even people who’ve done the right thing and saved for retirement are rendered insecure by rising inflation, and feel they need to keep working past pensionable age, which in South Africa is usually somewhere between 60 and 65.

In the US, by the way, pensionable age is 66, while in the UK it’s moved to 67 from this year. South Africa’s is so much younger due to the youth bulge. Older people need to clear space, is the logic, so that everyone can move up a rung and create more space at entry level.

However, as IFR’s research points out, while the moral need to bring more young people into jobs is unquestionable, losing talent at the age of 60 is perhaps not in anyone’s best interests:

  • People’s potential in terms of cognitive complexity matures with age. We don’t want to lose you and your experience at any arbitrary age.
  • Changing the way we work can keep us happily contributing and earning for many more years without “hogging” jobs. Semi-retirement – such as working a 3-day or 2-day week – keeps the talent and institutional knowledge in the house.
  • Contractual work does the same thing: the “elders” from any company could be positioned as coaches, mentors, and project specialists, and pick up on streams of work that they most enjoy.

In the context of the four-day week movement, we find this a fruitful conversation.