Origin of Retirement
Have you ever thought about where and when the idea of retirement was born? The concept of not working is actually fairly new. As far back as humans have been on this earth, they basically worked until they died. If someone could no longer handle manual labor, they would do something less strenuous to help the family.
Then in 1883, Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck of Germany announced that he would pay a pension to any non-working German over the age of 65. That wasn’t really a big deal because at the time, people rarely lived to 65. Nonetheless, this did set the arbitrary year of “old age” at 65 and established a precedent of the government paying people for growing old.
Fast forward to 1935, the Social Security Act was passed making people eligible to receive benefits at age 65 (the male life expectancy was only 58 at the time). This age was chosen because several municipalities and even some private companies had been offering pensions since the mid-1800s. The common age for people to receive benefits from those entities was 65.
As people began to live longer, they had more time after 65 when they weren’t working. They grew accustomed to receiving a pension, social security or both and enjoyed their time off. This became a trend and is now common, even a goal for most Americans.
Today there are an estimated 44 million people retired in the United States alone. The average retirement age is 63. But we are also beginning to see a shift in the retirement mindset. Some people retire early, others much later. Some can’t afford to retire at all. Others enjoy working and keep at it. And others retire but then are forced to go back to work. What used to be a one size fits all approach has turned into a very personal, unique experience for every person.
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