Retirement Industry Evolution. Postscript to Sept.27

In last week’s post Retirement Industry, in the Middle of an Evolution, I referenced a 2003 Statistics Canada Symposium in Ottawa in which I participated as a panelist in a discussion on later life career decisions and the 50 plus worker’s participation in an aging workforce. A couple of follow up comments are in order, the first one being that the actual title of the event was renamed on the final agenda as “New Perspectives in Retirement”.

imagesSecondly, it is worth noting that in 2006, the discussions and speaker presentations from this symposium were further developed in a 450-page research report compiled by Leroy O. Stone, Editor in Chief, Statistics Canada. Access this on line with the title New Frontiers on Research on Retirement.

Of the thirty contributing authors of this report, I want to highlight two people of high regard that stood out in particular for me at the time, and who continue to contribute research and conversation on the many aspects, which include aging, public and social policy, work and retirement and life course perspectives:


Victor W. Marshall, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

You will find Victor Marshall’s extensive work as a researcher and writer is well catalogued on the web site ResearchGate. His insights are so wide and they include great opportunity for professionals in the world of career and workforce development to inform their work in that field. Unfortunately, his availability to attend as a presenter at a 2004 careers industry conference I was programming in Venice could not afford us that opportunity.

Anne-Marie Guillemard, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at University of Paris Decartes Sorbonne. For a catalogue of her publications visit the web site Cairn

Stemming from the Ottawa event, in 2004 I had the pleasure of engaging Anne-Marie Guillemard as a panelist in that careers industry conference in Venice. This was at a time when the discussion of the future of an aging workforce was seriously beginning to heat up. Guillemard brought a number of broad insights to the table at these events, and two of these should be focused on more often in today’s public discussion, which I now bring forward in this 2016 postscript.

On the subject of Retirement as a social construct, Guillemard’s first pointed out that such as it is, Retirement policy (which includes pension contributions), is a contract between generations and that the post war model of working and retirement is no longer functional. Isn’t that one of the very points that has intensified in the ongoing touchy debate about moving the goal posts on “retirement age” and subsequent pension reform?

Guillemard also pointed to the fact that the meaning and importance of age and working longer fluctuates across cultures. This is why it continues to be important today, that both cross-cultural and cross-generational attitudes need to be considered as we make changes to public policy and it can be argued that even though there are differences internationally, there is much to be learned from studying and learning from the commonalities.

So when we talk of “Retirement”, we are talking about it on more than one level and those conversations from early last decade are still with us – Retirement as an industry, as a social contract (subject to continuous re-write) and as an individual attitude within our life course perspectives.

The preface to the 2006 “New Perspectives in Retirement” report starts with the paragraph:

“The baby boom generation has caused fundamental changes in every social institution that has been touched by its maturation. The social institution of retirement will be no exception. Those looking at the evolution of our society expect that the wave of retirements that the baby boom generation is about to unleash will trigger some key institutional and cultural changes.”

Ten years after I would dare to end this postscript by suggesting that while that “wave” is still in motion, it is not yet crested and it is not the only one washing up on shore. With greater foresight, we have to be more inclusive of the younger generations as the next wave – what they are thinking, what they are saying and for that matter, what they are not sure of in terms of how to frame the “Retirement” construct for their future, while grasping the nascent concept of greater longevity .



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