“It has been somewhat optimistically stated that it is time to retire retirement. We are being told to expect to work until 70 or beyond. Governments internationally are pushing out the ages at which pensions can be claimed and influential bodies such as the OECD are pointing to the inevitability of longer working lives as the average life expectancy is increasing.
However, it is contestable whether this is a realistic goal for all workers, raising the question as to what happens to those who, for whatever reason, are either unable or unwilling to remain in the paid labour force, for instance if they have caring responsibilities, cannot find work or are forced to exit due to a health condition.
More generally, with the present national debate framed around ‘lifters and leaners’ and ‘taxed and taxed nots’, there may be a risk of stigmatising those who retire from the paid workforce as no longer pulling their weight in a society where retirement is rapidly being recast as a kind of unemployment.
The Australian labour market has undergone substantial changes over the past few decades. This trend is likely to continue as we are confronted by what has been called the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ — driven by artificial intelligence and robots.”