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October 27, 2021

The ever-evolving definition of 'retirement'

Remember those Freedom 55 commercials from the ‘90s?

Stock-photo-16283874-golden-nest-eggMan, what a crock of (removed)!

Indeed, what every Canadian knew, deep down, about the financial afterlife was confirmed earlier this week, when Statistics Canada revealed that early retirement was a nineties myth along with “Nobody’s stopping Sinbad” and “Put all your cash in Bre-X.”

The cruel reality, as per StatsCan’s numbers: a 50-year-old worker in 2008 could expect to stay in the labour force 3.5 years longer than they would have more than a decade ago.

In other words, grab your daytime Depends, boomers. You’re not becoming a Snowbird just yet.

According to Statistics Canada, an employed 50-year-old worker in 2008, the latest year data is available, could expect to work another 16 years, putting him in the 66-year-old retirement range (nice math, we know).

*Bing: How to tell if you're ready to retire

That’s a big jump from the mid-1990s, when retirement could come as early as 62-, 63-years-old.

What’s to cause for the delayed retirement? For one, a recession and the great pension vanishing circa 2009 surely hasn’t helped, but StatsCan notes retirement has also been pushed back from where it stood in the late ‘80s and ‘90s because of high public-sector deficits and downsizing among private companies, which pushed many workers into an almost forced retirement 15, 20 years ago.

Yet the greatest takeaway from the above report isn’t when we’ll retire, rather our tragically shifting definition of the word.

Certainly, in a time of economic rethinking, early retirees look, well, lazy on the world’s scale. Regrettably, just look at all the scorn afforded European countries like Greece when it tried to fight for its youthful state retirement age last year.

So now, more than ever, it seems, we’ll work ourselves to the bone and be happy we even have the chance.

And lastly, want more proof the concept of retirement is changing? According to a new CIBC poll, a whopping 80 per cent of 18-to-24-year-olds believe they’ll work well into retirement age. That was the highest figure of any age group polled, suggesting young Canadians growing up today aren’t preparing for Freedom 55, Freedom 60 or even Freedom 65.

Has your idea of retirement changed since the recession’s outset in 2008?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...