Name: The 60-year career.
Age: Sixty, obviously.
Appearance: A long, slow, flat, miserable march to the grave.
Well, whatever this is, you’re really selling it. A 60-year career, though. Seriously. Sixty whole years. Working.
Could we track back a little? Of course. The Stanford Centre on Longevity recently published research suggesting that as many as half of today’s five-year-olds in the US can expect to live to 100.
That’s great! May they have long and happy lives. Wait, you’re missing the point. A world full of 100-year-olds is a world full of pensioners.
Yes, obviously. If we see similar demographic changes in the UK, all these people on course to be centenarians will be eligible for the state pension at 68. That’s millions of people drawing a state pension for 32 years, which is not only untenable for the country’s coffers, but also very unlikely to be sufficient for the many people who don’t have a handsome workplace or private pension.
What’s the alternative? Why, the 60-year career, of course. It’s like a normal career, but lasts 20 years longer.
How dare you. Hey, don’t be like that. Maybe there are upsides to spending 60 years of your life at work.
Like what? I don’t know. Maybe some people like their job.
Be serious. OK, what about this: you have a 60-year career, but you only do as much work as you would in a 40-year career.
I don’t understand. It’s one of Stanford’s ideas: smoothing out the work/life balance so you’re not run ragged in the throes of midlife.
OK, I’m interested. People in their 40s often have to juggle work with raising kids or caring for a parent. What if, for this part of their lives, they went part-time? And then, when they’re still relatively fit and healthy in their late 60s, they could pick up some of their own slack?
So work longer, but work less? That’s it. Doesn’t it sound wonderful?
Not really. I want to do nothing from my 68th birthday onwards. Well, that isn’t going to work. The pension system is outdated. It was designed in an age when workers spent their lives toiling until they bled, then died of boredom at 65.
So I’m the bad guy for living longer? Yes, that’s right. You should feel ashamed.
I guess this doesn’t apply to me, anyway: I’m nowhere near five years old. Precisely. They’re the ones who’ll have to work when they’re infirm, the adorable little suckers.
Do say: “When you grow up, you can be anything you want to be.”
Don’t say: “As long as you’re prepared to do it until the age of 80.”