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Retirement, Delayed

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Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg
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The baby boom generation has left its mark on music, fitness and politics. Next up: retirement. While many people in developed countries dream of the same golden age of relaxation, sun and travel that their parents enjoyed, a growing number in their 60s have looked at the numbers and decided to keep working. It takes a lot of savings to finance a 30-year vacation. For some, working is a choice — why give up a good income and fulfilling career? Demographic pressures have led governments to encourage that decision. The generation famous for rewriting the rules is rethinking life after 65.

From 2025 to 2050, the number of people age 65 and older is projected to nearly double to 1.6 billion worldwide. But the birthrate has been declining. This means fewer workers and fewer people paying into pension programs. So governments are encouraging people to work longer and raising the age to qualify for public pensions. This has had an impact: The share of retirement-age people who were working grew over the decade through 2015 to 6 percent in Germany, 10 percent in the U.K., and 18 percent in the U.S. In Japan, where the median age is 46.9, 22 percent of seniors are working and surveys show 80 percent want to work.  (Japan’s demographics make it the world’s oldest country after Monaco.) Often this isn’t a voluntary decision; many seniors find it hard to live comfortably on pensions alone. Only a small percentage of citizens in China and India are in any pension system.