BEYOND THE LOCAL: Canada’s economic and social development must redefine the “old”

No one suddenly becomes old and unproductive on their 65th birthday, so a reformulation of working and retirement age is greatly warranted.

This article from Thomas Klassen, York University, Canada originally appeared on Conversation and is published here with permission.

Governments in Canada define the working age as between 15 and 65, but this distorts the lives of Canadians.

The 2016 census found that one in five Canadians aged 65 and over, or nearly 1.1 million people, are still working and one-third work full time.

Many private sector and self-employed workers are working well past the age of 65, which is why the average retirement age in Canada is now 64.4, a three-year increase in two decades.

False assumptions about age 65

Although mandatory retirement at age 65 was abolished over a decade ago, laws and public policy, including Statistics Canada definitions, continue to assume that everyone retires at age 65.

In many provinces, workers’ compensation laws only compensate injured workers for lost earnings until age 65, or for two years if they were over 63 when they got injured on the job.

Employers’ obligations to rehire workers following an injury only apply until someone turns 65.

Employers are not required to provide medical and dental benefits or life and disability insurance to workers age 65 and older. There may be no difference between the skills, abilities and duties of a 64-year-old employee and a 65-year-old employee, but one receives benefits while the other does not. not benefit.

Being 65 is not magical. A reformulation of the working and retirement age is strongly justified to strengthen Canada’s economic and social development. Other countries have already done so.

Recent development

Setting the age of entry into old age at 65 is a relatively recent development.

Germany, the first nation to adopt a social insurance program for the elderly in 1889, set the eligibility age at 70. The Newfoundland Old Age Pension, established in 1911, set 75 as the minimum age for receiving benefits. The Canada Old Age Pensions Act, which was in effect from 1927 to 1952, set the retirement age at 70.

In the mid-1960s, when the Canada Pension Plan was introduced, age 65 was established as the age to receive a full pension and to receive Old Age Security benefits. The 65th birthday of Canadian workers has become the universal marker of their exit from the labor market and their official entry into old age.

Demographers and other experts say we should revisit the definition of ‘old age’ and ‘retirement age’ as the use of 65 is increasingly inappropriate as people live longer and healthier lives than ever before.

In addition, compared to several decades ago, Canadians are devoting more years to post-secondary studies, which translates into a later start to full-time work.

Work itself has also changed, with fewer and fewer occupations requiring intense physical labor.

Reconsider what is meant by old

There are ways to update the definition of old age that would have obvious social and economic benefits.

One is to have multiple markers for ‘old’, such as ‘young old age’ for people aged 65-74; “middle age” for those aged 75-84 and “old age” for those aged 85 and over.

This recognizes the diversity of people aged 65 and over, allowing politicians and other stakeholders to design more sensitive and age-appropriate policies for each of these three distinct demographic groups.

For example, working past 65 has been shown to have health benefits for certain groups and should therefore not be discouraged for the “young old”.

A second option is to adjust the age that marks official entry into old age – currently 65 – to take account of increased longevity. A century ago, Canadians reaching the age of 65 could expect to live another 13 years. Currently, men reaching 65 will live 18 years longer, while women will live 22 years longer.

With a longer life expectancy, it makes sense to have a higher age marker for old age. This option has been offered in the UK and is often accompanied by the proclamation: “70 is the new 65”.

Finally, old age could be made more gender sensitive. Women live longer on average than men and are therefore classified as older for a longer period. The latest Canadian census reveals that there are over 9,000 centenarians in Canada, mostly women, each of whom has been defined as elderly for nearly a third of their lives.

Intended for men

The use of the same age definition for women and men reflects the fact that historically the age of retirement and retirement was set for men and not for women, as fewer women worked outside the fireplace.

Because women live longer on average than men, they must work longer to have similar retirement savings, but this is not possible if they retire at the same age as their male counterparts.

A revised conception of old age would significantly reduce the number of people classified as old and more accurately reflect the total number of people in Canada’s working-age population. A modern definition would also lessen stereotypes about older workers and ageism while spurring governments to reform outdated laws and provide a boost to an economy that often faces labor shortages.

Raising the age at which Canadians are considered old is certainly an easy political sell. After all, who could object to being considered younger?

Thomas KlassenProfessor, School of Public Policy and Administration, York University, Canada

This article is republished from The conversation under Creative Commons license. Read it original article.

Joel C. Hicks