Is there a ‘right’ age to retire?


By LILY FU

One idea to consider is to let workers decide for themselves and be given the option to work as long as they are able to, or need to, says gerontologist Lily Fu. Photo: 123rf.com

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad once jokingly said the new retirement age in Malaysia will be 95 when he hands over his premiership to his successor. That was in 2018. He may have said it in jest but at the rate our demography chart is changing, Malaysia will reach ageing nation status by 2030, when we will see more people working well into their 70s. This is inevitable.

When the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) was set up in 1951, life expectancy then, believe it or not, was 55! With the retirement age set at 55 at the time, lump sum EPF withdrawals would be more than sufficient to sustain contributors through the short retirement period. We now know those figures were way off the mark. Advances in science, medicine and technology have drastically extended life spans.

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