The economics of retirement


Sir; – It is extremely worrying that the Economic and Social Research Institute, together with the Citizens’ Assembly, should suggest extending the retirement age to 70. It is no surprise that the Minister for Social Protection agrees with the latest findings; politicians and their advisers appear especially ignorant of the enormous economic change wrought by advanced technology in the 21st century. Extending retirement age is about a wrong as it is possible to get. In 20 years, and possibly a lot sooner, people will retire in their fifties for the simple reason that unless they do, there will not be enough work to sustain employment essential for dignified distribution of wealth and social cohesion. This includes the proviso that those employed will work a lot less, with a longer time spent in education, substantially shorter hours, extended holidays and earlier retirement.

The human race is in the fortunate position that it is no longer necessary to “earn one’s bread by the sweat of one’s brow”. The genius of automation and robotics can produce much greater wealth in terms of goods and services than all the work in the world ever could. Employment is necessary mainly to distribute part of that wealth to mass populations. Until people realise this, they will continue to have idiotic ideas of working harder and longer as if technological transformation had never happened. If we continue with such ignorance of technological reality, we face into a very uncertain future. – Yours, etc,


Tubbercurry, Co Sligo.