An interesting article by Shefali Rekhi reports work from researchers in life expectancy at the Ageing Research Centre of the University of Southern Denmark who are calling for a massive change in how we look at work. They point out current work practices requiring people to work five days a week, eight hours or more a day, till perhaps their mid-60s date back nearly half a century.
A study of life expectancy trends in the past century shows that many people can expect to live longer and the majority of those born after 2000 will likely cross 100.
Based on this, Professor Kaare Christensen and his colleagues are suggesting that people should have the option to work fewer hours during their prime years, have more time for family and leisure, and the opportunity to retire much later.
With technological and medical gains, those growing older in the current generation will be more active than earlier generations and will likely suffer much less disability, they project. Besides, working longer may even contribute to their life expectancy and health, they add.
‘Very long lives are not the distant privilege of remote future generations – very long lives are the probable destiny of most people alive now in developed countries,’ the researchers write in their paper. Titled Ageing Populations: The Challenges Ahead, it was published in The Lancet medical journal last month.
The researchers said that if their suggestions are implemented, productivity issues would be automatically addressed in the redistribution – because many people in their 60s and 70s would prefer part-time work to full-time labour. This will open up part-time work opportunities for younger people.
‘The average amount of work per year could stay at about the same as it is at present,’ the researchers said, emphasising that it will mean a net gain for society.
Prof Christensen said: ‘We have to think about making place for three, if not four, generations in the workplace.’
We believe that people already engaged in portfolio careers will find these changes easier to cope with and indeed should benefit from them.