Retirement age: End of productive journey? [Archives:2006/996/Opinion]

November 6 2006

Prof. Abdulaziz Al-Tarb
Generally, the pensionable age is set at the age of 60 and retirement is the judgment that a person is no longer able to work and has to retire. Nevertheless, this equation is presently no longer appropriate and many countries have now extended the retirement age to 65 years. In my view the retired is an adjective proper for describing the employee who does not work. Here his presence and absence are at an equal footing with respect to the productive process.

In reality creativity is not confined to a certain age. Rather, innovation and creativity crystallize and mature after the age of 60 and they are enhanced by experience and wisdom of the years. The best works of many innovators came after the age of 60. Most of scientists in various areas have offered the best of what they possess after they have passed the age of 60. Many poets and writers have produced their best works later in life.

People at the age of retirement, 60 or 65, can be help by easing the burden of their responsibility by appointing them as counselor or advisor handling affairs of a number of personnel or reduce their hours at institutes and colleges. This move can be applied to surgeons at hospitals. The goal is to create young talent to succeed them. They have to be honored by the head of the state and granted distinguished degrees before pensioning them, as what happens in the army, security and diplomatic career.

Specifying the age of retirement at the age of 60 is an unfair decision and illogical, and maybe inherited from the middle ages. Personally, I have reached the age of 60 and I feel younger than my sons and my grandchildren. Over the long years of my career I have acquired experience, knowledge and influence and relations, as well as to the scientific standard that I bear, which cannot be available during youth. I have become more stable and less emotional and able to judge and analyze matters rationally away from emotion and whims.

Some would think extending the age of retirement deprives youth of job opportunities and precludes young blood from productive institutions. This thought is incorrect. It is especially so when we realize jobs need brains rather than muscle. Most productive or creative jobs presently depend on reason, especially with the contemporary tendency to mechanization and dependence on advanced electronics. Man is no longer in need of muscles as much as brains.

The best evidence of that change was when the Chinese leadership wanted to renew its blood and replace the leadership – they chose leaderships that have exceeded the age of 70.

We are in need of the experienced workers. We have to encourage them before leaving for pension to have prepared the alternative workers in all facilities, ministries and institutions if we are preparing Yemen as a modern state entertaining law and order.

Prof. Abdulaziz Al-Tarb is an economist and a professor in Political Science. He is the head of the Arab Group for Investment and Development.