Europeans are living longer than ever. However, as average life expectancy has been rising, retirement ages have also been creeping steadily upwards. Meanwhile, Europe is greying; the number of pensioners will continue to rise, while the proportion of the population of working-age to support them will fall. Some policy wonks, therefore, have been suggesting raising retirement ages even further.

Yet if European countries keep raising retirement ages, could some workers end up not retiring at all? Might we, in effect, risk abolishing retirement altogether? Can we all work until we’re 70… or even 100?

What do our readers think? We had a question sent in from Fern, who believes that further rises in Europe’s retirement ages are inevitable. Is she right? Will we all have to work until we’re 100?

To get a response, we spoke to Monika Queisser, Head of the Social Policy Division at the OECD’s Directorate of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs. How would she answer Fern’s question?

We’re already seeing that OECD countries have been increasing retirement ages over the past couple of years to respond to people living longer. And we see that, even though retirement ages have been going up, life expectancy is still increasing faster than the increases in retirement age. Which means that people are spending longer and longer in retirement.

So, essentially that’s good news, but, of course, somebody has to pay for it. And that is why many countries are increasing retirement ages indeed, but they’re paying great attention to the fact that not all of this extra time in retirement is spent in healthy retirement. So, countries are closely watching how far they can go in increasing the retirement age while making sure that those people who cannot work longer are still going to be protected.

For another perspective, we put the same question to Lynda Armstrong from the UK-based volunteer organisation Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI). How would she respond?

That’s a very pertinent question because, [in August 2019] one of the government’s think-tanks, which is – I believe – chaired by Iain Duncan Smith [the former British Work & Pensions Secretary], actually published a recommendation that the retirement age should be raised to 75, I believe.

So, on that basis, there does seem to be an intention by government – whoever they may be – to continue to raise the state pension age, which is obviously what I’m talking about here. So, is it inevitable? I believe that it does look that way, but I’m not an expert on life expectancy, which is where the argument that they use for the reason that the state pension age needs to be continually increased. I think, statistically, life expectancy has kind of plateaued in recent years; it did go up, but I think recently it’s plateaued, so I think that argument could become weaker as time goes on, but only time will tell.

Will we all have to work until we’re 100? Should retirement ages keep going up alongside life expectancy? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

Image Credits: Bigstock © Raumann1975; Portrait Credits: Queisser © OECD & Armstrong © Privat


20 comments Post a commentcomment


  1. avatar
    Николай

    I think before that there will be some riots and few governments planted on the trees

  2. avatar
    Paul

    Not sure I’d want to be resued by a 99 he old fireman.!

  3. avatar
    Chris

    I support boris 100%, get us out now.

    • avatar
      Anatilde

      it’s coz of Boris your coin is worth 89cents in European coin. If he keeps on with the the antics as it is, pretty soon is gonna fall harder, Wich means export besides being more heavily taxed, it will also bring less profit, Wich means you are f**ked. Same happened in the USA, but whatever.

    • avatar
      Chris

      the EU economy is tanking. We have record employment, remind me about unemployment in southern Europe will you. We have record inward investment, does the EU? Oh and the EU central bank buying up junk bonds and printing money again. Enjoy your EU widen recession.

    • avatar
      Antonio

      I’m sorry, but why are you in a page called Debating Europe if you’re not interested in it?
      Find a better way to waste your time, thanks.

    • avatar
      Chris

      Antonio do you prefer an echo chamber where everyone loves the EU? A debate isn’t a debate if everyone agrees. Shutting down other views? Typical EU supporter, authoritarian. The EU is fundamentally anti democratic and it upsets me that people fought to be free of the ussr then, want to do it all again with a different flag.

    • avatar
      Anonymous

      Well said Chris

  4. avatar
    Γεώργιος

    If we are eurocrats with pensions from 50 and highly paid decorative positions with rich benefits

  5. avatar
    Giulia

    We’ll just have to work until we’re alive.

  6. avatar
    Chris

    If we continue to elect right-wing government yes. The retirement age must be 55 years for women and 60 years for men.

    • avatar
      Diaconu

      probably going toward 70s…

  7. avatar
    Patrizia

    Looks like. What about employers? Are they ready for that, to recruit and keep elder people?

  8. avatar
    Rumy

    Obviously we do… so we can finance the EU

    • avatar
      Chris

      How many failed socialist projexts/countries do we need before people get it. If there is no reward for individual effort productivity goes down and state dependency and therefore control over the population goes up. AUTHORITARIANISM

    • avatar
      Antonio

      “And now for you, above this comment, two individuals of the species Sus scrofa domesticus”

  9. avatar
    Franck

    While so many youngs and 30_40ers, are jobless… such a nonsense

  10. avatar
    Eduardo

    Retirement funds seem to be government savings to be used at will. No, they won’t shut it down anytime soon.

  11. avatar
    Enric

    All but the politiciens and friends.

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