We are approaching Labour Day weekend in North America and you have to wonder at how the context for the word “labour” has changed since the eight hour day movement nearly 200 hundred years ago. What a formula. Can you imagine what it was like before then?
Fast forward to 2013 and here we are talking about a reversal of perspective with a so called population growing younger while at the same time working longer. As Douglas Rushkoff says in his new book Present Shock – we are in an age of narrative collapse. For example he asks; “how does the current story of career and retirement adjust to life spans increasing from the sixties to the one hundreds?”
Let’s project one scenario. If 40 years ago it was 20 years of childhood, adolescence and schooling, 45 years of working and 5 years retirement, it can become 30-35-25+. A population living longer, not really growing younger (yes it’s all a spin on perspective). Even with this extended lifetimes model, what is our relationship to the labour force?
Simply by the numbers, according to Statistics Canada – in 2011, labour force participation rates were 22% for 65 to 69 year olds, and 5% of those 70 years and over. So what about all that C.D. Howe e-brief talk about second careers – where did that disappear in these numbers? Maybe it’s that governments are still boxing the numbers based on the old narrative.
Is there really a crisp end to work?