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Chapter 9

SOC375 Chapter Notes - Chapter 9: Ageism, Work Group, Mandatory Retirement

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Kwame Boadu

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Chapter 9- Retirement and Work
- Retirement- withdrawal from paid working life
- Most Canadians retire at age 65 or earlier
o Few work after age 70 shows that retirement has become a normative life event
- Trend of retiring at age 65 may be changing with longer life expectancy today, if they retire at age 65, some
people will spend ¼ or more of their adult life in retirement
o New options in Canada challenge the ideal of a clean break from the labour force at or before 65
o Today, a person may retire from one job then return to the workforce
Person may retire and re-enter the workforce more than once
o Retiree may start a new career, take on part-time work, or open their business
o Makes retirement a fluid and flexible time of life social forces and personal preference all shape it
- Gerontologists view retirement from 2 points of view as a social institution and as a personal experience
Retirement as a Social Institution: The Origins of Retirement
- Myles traces our idea of old age today to 2 developments:
o **Retirement principle- the idea that a person leaves work at a fixed age, regardless of mental or
physical ability
o Retirement wage- a pension paid by the state to support all older people
o Myles says that a new group of people grew out of these 2 developments a population of elders still
fit for produtio ho do’t egage i eooi atiit
- Employers and employees have both supported the retirement principle in North America; industry supported it
for 2 reasons:
o Retirement allowed companies to retire older, skilled workers and hire younger less-skilled workers at
lower wages
o Copaies, usig a philosoph of sietifi aageet, sought to speed up produtio ad get
more out of their workers
Unions offered to have workers work faster if companies reduce their workday, but a faster
pace of work made it hard for older workers to compete with their younger counterparts
- Canadian government supported the retirement principle for a number of reasons
o Retirement relieves the government of the embarrassment and extravagance of retaining the services
of officers who have outlived their usefulness
o Creates a proper flow of promotion
o Renders the service more mobile
o Deters efficient workers from leaving the public service for private employment
o In general, tend to promote efficiency in every way
- Canada introduced the Old Age Pension Act in 1927 to promote these goals and to solve a social problem
created by retired workers
o More people live to old age
o Many old people live in poverty provided a basic income for the poorest old people
o Employers needed to reduce unemployment and increase productivity opened up jobs for the young
- Unions in North America wanted companies to use seniority as a method for deciding layoffs or cutbacks
o Gave workers a right to a job, and it gave the oldest workers the most job security
o But companies resisted the seniority system because older workers cost them more and seniority rights
made it harder for them to fire inefficient older workers
- Retirement served both unions and employers: it limited seniority rights to people under the age of retirement
and allowed companies to let older workers go
- Compared with today, few people retired in the past
o In Canada, many people worked on farms or in small businesses, types of work with no retirement age
o Most important, a lack of retirement income kept most people working as long as they could
Only with the increase in public pensions and social supports for older people after WWII did
retirement spread
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US Social Security program led the way for this change
I tie, “oial “eurit, ad later Caada’s puli pesio sste, set a e goal for
public pensions proised to ake up for a retiree’s lost ioe
- Government now plays the major role in guaranteeing pensions to older retirees public pensions and transfer
payments act as a deferred wage because people pay into the programs through taxes and payments to the
CPP/QPP while they work
o People get a share of the social product over and above any claims they may have possessed in their
capacity as wage earners
Citizen’s wage- a government pension tied to age
Makes retirement a time of economic security and freedom for many older people
o Without public pension plans, a large proportion of older people would live in or near poverty ensures
everyone will have income security in old age
- In sum, retirement became a social institution which was supported by:
o Employer retire older skilled workers and hire younger, less skilled workers at lower ages
o Employees allowed older workers to leave the workforce gracefully (and for different reasons)
o Unions seniority rights (first hired=last fired) to people under the age of retirement
o Government reduce unemployment and increase productivity
- Note: retireet does’t take plae i soe outries here there are o goeret pesios
Why Do People Retire?
- Number of personal conditions lead people to choose retirement, including:
o Perso’s epeted pesio ioe
o Early retirement incentives
o Loss of a job
o Health
o “pouse’s deisio to retire
o Family responsibilities
- Social forces can also lead to a person choosing retirement, including:
o Mandatory retirement rules
o Better pensions that start at age 65
o More positive societal attitude toward retirement
Mandatory Retirement
- Plays a relatively small role in the pattern of retirement today
- No federal law forces a person to retire at age 65, and no statute requires a worker to leave work at a certain
age federal public service ended mandatory retirement in 1986
o Mandatory retirement is age discrimination a person who wants to continue to work should be
allowed to do so
o Past practice was to enforce mandatory retirement rules (65+ were not protected by provincial human
rights legislation), which forced many people out of work at age 65
- Longer life expectancy, better health among older workers, the change in the type of work older people do (less
aual laour, ad the eed for older orkers’ epertise akes adator retireet a outdated poli
except in special circumstances
- Government, employers, and employees now favour more flexible retirement options
o Government removed all exceptions that permit mandatory retirement (except where a legitimate
occupational condition would require it)
- Canada may need its older workers to remain on the job predictions that labour shortages will be more
common in the future
Will an End to Mandatory Retirement Lead Older Workers to Stay on the Job?
- In an analysis of 6 countries, including Canada, study (Cooke) found that older orkers do’t ted to sta at
work if they have a choice
o Little evidence that banning mandatory retirement has had an effect on labour force participation
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