Is retirement a thing of the past in Australia? Do we need and/or want to work more years? Is Government policy pushing us in that direction? These are some of the retirement trends canvassed in David Kennedy’s new book “End of the Retirement Age: Embracing the pursuit of meaning, purpose and prosperity”.

Dead end sign, is it the endof retirement?

[This post is sponsored by End of the Retirement Age. Retiring not Shy! was provided a review copy of this book. If you purchase a copy from the Booktopia link below, Retiring not Shy! will receive a small commission (but you won’t pay any extra].

End of retirementage
Is it the end of retirement age?

Much has been said and written about the baby boomer generation, including of course on this blog. Our generation has been called all sorts of things, many of them somewhat insulting. But whatever the rhetoric, it cannot be denied that there are a lot of us. Consequently, we are impacting the economy and the shape of Australian society. I believe we have the potential to do so positively, and so does David Kennedy, the author of this book. David is a retirement planning expert (financial) but I was pleased to see that he does not use this book to push his financial planning services. Instead David takes a considered and thorough look at the state of retirement in Australia.

What is End of the Retirement Age about?

The book takes a wide ranging look at the history and current reality of retirement in Australia. It looks at demographics, government policy and social trends. The broad thesis of the book is that retirement in its current form is redundant and that what takes its place has the potential to be transformational. The subtitle is “embracing the pursuit of meaning, purpose and prosperity” and David describes the need to find ways to meet all of those objectives.

meaning purpose and engagement in retirement
Meaning purpose and engagement are important at all stages of life

This thesis is explicated through a series of short chapters, rather like blog posts. These explore themes such as contending with longer life expectancies, surviving without welfare, navigating the changing workplace, and retirement planning challenges. David then follows with a number of personal stories from Australian retirees.

inspiring retirement stories in this book
End of the Retirement Age includes inspiring retirement stories

Key themes from End of the Retirement Age

We each have the opportunity to redefine retirement on our own terms, embracing our increased longevity, the potential uses of technology and the opportunities for seniorpreneurship.

life expectancy
Does longer life expectancy mean the end of retirement age?

One of the key themes is that we each need to plan for our financial future, despite living in a world obsessed with “now“. Our increasing longevity makes this more essential and at the same time more daunting. David describes the reality for many Australians retiring in the near future who will not have adequate superannuation to support themselves, and that this is not just an issue for baby boomers. One of the solutions to this problem is of course to work longer and many (although not all) Australians are keen to do so.

Planning for the future
Planning for the future is essential for retirees

However,  wanting to work more does not necessarily mean that employment is easy to find for older Australians, well for any Australians really, but older Australians face particular challenges. David describes this as “The great workplace disconnect”, and documents that in November 2015 the average duration of unemployment for older mature age individuals was 68 weeks, compared with 49 weeks for those aged 25-34 and 30 weeks for those aged 15-24.

For many of our generation that means we are becoming self employed and our skills and expertise are lost to the business community. What is for certain is that we cannot rely on the Government to support us financially or in finding employment.

working together
Old and young working together should offer the best of both worlds.

The fact that employment is hard to find is a double whammy, as the book explains, at a time when Governments are less able to fund welfare in the manner in which it once existed. We seem to be caught between not having enough superannuation, not being able to get meaningful well paid work, and not being able to get the aged pension. All of these issues are thoroughly canvassed in the book.

My final thoughts on “End of the Retirement Age”

I thought this book was well written and well constructed and demonstrated a great depth of research on a broad range of topics. It covers a number of themes which we at Retiring not Shy! consider very important and have written about, including the changes to superannuation policy and some thoughts on maintaining a sense of purpose in retirement. I felt though that the book asked more questions than it provided answers, and that was disappointing. It felt a little anecdotal and as though David was trying to cover too many issues in too few words.

Because it is a personal ‘bee in my bonnet’ I would particularly liked to have seen more on our positive economic impact (rather than just our cost to Government). Given David’s excellent research capability it would have been great to hear some more on that topic.

In the end though, we all need to ask ourselves the questions the book posits, and answer them for ourselves, so I recommend you make a small investment and purchase a copy. You will definitely find the book thought provoking, and if you are planning or indeed re-thinking your retirement, reading ‘End of the Retirement Age’ might be just what you need to help broaden your thinking. You will almost certainly feel much better informed upon finishing the Book.

Do you think retirement as we know it in Australia is threatened?  Are we now expected to ‘Work until we drop’? How can we convince policy makers and employers that we are an economic powerhouse and that many of us are prepared to make a positive contribution to the workforce and the economy?