The Third Age
Robert L. Rubinstein
EDITORS' INTRODUCTION Rubinstein focuses his attention on the interval of the Third Age, the span of years between retirement age and the advent of ageimposed limitations. This is a time when adequate resources, adequate health, and few responsibilities provide a context for self-fulfillment, freedom, and purposeful engagement. How long the Third Age lasts varies among individuals, but it is likely to last several years and can extend for two decades or even longer. To be sure, not everyone who is an appropriate age has the health and the financial security that make the Third Age's freedoms possible. But those who had stable careers, even in blue-collar work, are very likely to meet the financial requisites of Third Age membership.
Rubinstein notes that those entering the Third Age will find little guidance regarding the merits and deficiencies of alternative ways of designing their lives. The Third Age is still too new to have attracted the attention of the mythmakers and model-providers of our society: our dramatists, novelists, and filmmakers.
The Third Age makes available many alternative core commitments: continued work, perhaps in a new field, in a different role, or for fewer hours; unpaid work for institutions and causes; travel; golf; visits to the children and grandchildren; or just living quietly: staying at home, with occasional get-togethers with friends and kin. To