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Showing posts from February 10, 2014

Abolish the Mandatory Retirement Age?

Have you ever wondered where the mandatory retirement age of 65 came from?  Why 65?  Why not 60?  Or 72?

From a European history class I took way back when, I learned that the age of 65 for retirement was essentially plucked from the air by Otto von Bismark, the chancellor of Prussia, in the 1840s as part of a compromise with European labor unions.  Bismark was trying to unite the many small Germanic states into a greater Germany, and was meeting resistance from the unions.

Bismark offered a state funded retirement to any worker once they reached the age of 65, which the majority of workers accepted and the unions agreed to.  The kicker in the plan was that the average age when most adult males died in the mid-19th century was 45, so the plan wasn't going to cost the government much money.

Flash forward to today, and most Americans and Europeans are living well into their seventh and eighth decades, relatively healthy and often able - and willing - to work.  Paying for these otherwis…