Retirement Age 'Could Rise to 80'; Research on Prolonging Life May Extend Careers as Pension Costs Rocket

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), December 5, 1999 | Go to article overview
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Retirement Age 'Could Rise to 80'; Research on Prolonging Life May Extend Careers as Pension Costs Rocket


Byline: EDMUND TIRBUTT

EXPERIMENTS on mice could have far-reaching effects on pensions, including raising the retirement age to 80.

Nature magazine reports that mice bred with a modified gene are more resistant to the cell damage that causes ageing.

It says that a similar process could do the same for humans.

Life-prolonging gene transplants would lead to lower life insurance premiums, but would have serious implications for everyone planning to enjoy a comfortable retirement.

Workers with personal pensions, and many employees in company schemes, must buy an annuity when they reach retirement.

These annuities pay a regular income for life.

But annuity rates have slumped in the Nineties and even longer life expectancy would cut them still further.

Peter Quinton, managing director of The Annuity Bureau, a London-based adviser, says: 'If a gene transplant became available, the implications for the annuity market could be serious. It could have such a huge effect on state pension provision that drastic action would be required.

'Having to support an increasingly ageing population is already a major concern, but this could move the goalposts.

'The retirement age might have to be raised as high as 80 to allow the necessary pension funding to be arranged.' Insurance to protect against care costs in old age could also be affected, but much would depend on whether gene transplants had a positive effect on health as well as life expectancy.

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