Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Around the World, People Ask: What Will Retirement Be Like?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Around the World, People Ask: What Will Retirement Be Like?

Article excerpt

Ads for retirement communities portray a carefree world. Youthful- looking couples, along with a few singles, smile broadly as they play golf and tennis, stroll along wooded paths, and relax by the pool. "Ah," they appear to be saying, "this is the life."

For some future retirees, this Eden may continue to represent the ideal life. But for millions of others, the phrase will more likely be rendered in the past tense: "That was the life." Increasingly, a retirement of total leisure is beginning to look like a quaint artifact of the 20th century - a blip on the cultural screen, a chapter in future history books. As longevity increases and once- certain financial cushions - Social Security and pensions - become less secure, the script for the later years is under revision. For better or worse, it's not your father's - or mother's - retirement anymore.

Once viewed as a reward for a lifetime of obedience to alarm clocks and bosses, retirement is now alternately portrayed as something to be desired and something to be avoided. "Move to the Sun Belt and relax," glossy ads tease. "Don't Retire - Rewire!" counter the authors of a new book by that title.

What's fascinating is that this seismic shift represents not just an American trend, but a global phenomenon. In a new survey of more than 11,000 adults in 10 parts of the world, more than three- quarters say they should be allowed to work as long as they want. So much for the proverbial gold watch at 65.

The survey, "The Future of Retirement Around the World," is billed as the largest global study on attitudes about retirement. Conducted by HSBC Bank in Britain, it looks at attitudes in Brazil, Canada, mainland China, Hong Kong, France, India, Japan, Mexico, Britain, and the United States. In six of those 10 societies, the majority would like to alternate work and leisure.

No wonder the group ThirdAge says that the definition of "retired" is evolving to include "working in some capacity."

This spring, surveys on retirement are popping up like daffodils. …

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