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It’s not fair

Ghilarducci thinks people need to dive deeper into the data around American life expectancy and how that relates to working longevity.

“Not everyone is living longer,” she stressed. “There is a slice of the population that have had good healthcare [and] have had the kinds of jobs that enhance their health and their wellbeing and their skills. They’re living longer.

“But there are some parts of our economy, of our America, where actually the longevity is going down. Deaths of despair, the suicides, the opioid addiction [and] even the kinds of jobs that people have are shortening their lives.”

Ghilarducci claims this “inequality” in society makes this common “live longer, work longer” argument impossible for a large portion of Americans.

Specifically, she highlighted the plight of older workers in pink collar jobs (care-oriented careers, historically considered to be women’s work) and “light” blue collar jobs that may require a lot of engagement with a computer.

“The service sector — taking care of older people, taking care of children — that requires a lot of heavy lifting, a lot of stooping and bending, a lot of physical activity and those jobs break bodies down,” Ghilarducci explained.

“The computer has made some aspects of jobs easier, [especially] on the knees, but the requirements for intense concentration, keen eyesight and actually being able to speed up your work because of increased surveillance has actually made those jobs harder too.”

Ghilarducci claims the jobs older Americans often have “can raise cortisol levels, increase inflammation and cause more metabolic disorders and early death.” As a result, she says making them work for longer is not a viable solution to the nation’s retirement challenges.

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Some don’t have a choice

One part of America’s so-called “retirement crisis” that Ghilarducci thinks experts — “including Larry Fink” — overlook is the fact that “most people cannot decide when they retire.”

She highlighted the difference between someone choosing to “retire” at a certain age, versus being forcefully “retired” by an employer due to age or waning workplace abilities.

According to a 2018 Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis report, 52% of older workers claimed they were forced into involuntary retirement.

Ghilarducci cited that 52% stat in the Bloomberg interview, saying that older Americans are often “forced to retire” because of health issues — like bad knees, metabolic disorders and stress — or to take care of their aging spouse.

“This idea that workers can just decide to work longer is a myth because most people cannot decide whether or not to work or not,” she stressed.

While you may not have much choice over your employment later in life, there are things you can control, such as: how you manage your finances, when you decide to take Social Security, and how you save and invest your money so that you have enough to live off during your retirement.

If you’re not sure where to start, consider seeking guidance from a financial adviser, who can help you come up with a plan that helps you hit your retirement goals.

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Bethan Moorcraft is a reporter for Moneywise with experience in news editing and business reporting across international markets.

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