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Debate: Mandatory retirement age

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Should the government enforce a mandatory retirement age?

Background and context

The current situation in Britain consists of a mandatory retirement age in the public sector of 60 or 65 and also for many private sector employees. Those who are self-employed or private practitioners are not subject to a mandatory retirement age, thus including judges, doctors, artists, writers, and politicians. (Judges have a mandatory retirement age of 75 although High Court Judges are exempt from this). Although this debate is geared towards UK law and examples it can clearly be adapted so as to be applicable to other countries.

This article is based on a Debatabase entry written by Kirsteen Macleod. Because this document can be modified by any registered user of this site, its contents should be cited with care.

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Argument #1

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Yes

The most critical consideration for extending the generally accepted age of retirement to a mandatory age of 65 for all of society is to safeguard against the effects of old age of judges, surgeons and private practitioners. The age of 65 is chosen as an average age above which it is possible for people to experience problems with their physical or mental well-being. Mandatory retirement would protect against the detrimental effects that could be the result of mistakes or misjudgements by elderly professionals. Many argue that these professions have a great influence over the lives of many e.g. judicial decisions, surgical procedures, and there are at present insufficient safeguards to prevent against incompetence.

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No

There is no medical evidence to confirm that person’s over the age of 65 are either infirm or incapable. In the professions such as law and medicine where this law would take effect, there are safeguards to identify malpractice or incompetence, and these are far better dealt with on an individual basis according to individual health and fitness, rather than punishing those healthy capable individuals who wish to work beyond this age.

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Argument #2

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Yes

Mandatory retirement allows opportunity for more employment of younger people, especially in the top jobs. Considering the unemployment statistics in Britain, this will help to reduce unemployment of the youth, and vacate jobs for those who are at the age of supporting themselves and setting up a home and lifestyle, as well as those supporting a family. This is also more economically sound – surely it makes more sense to pay more pensions, supplemented with private pensions, than support the unemployed youth of the country. If they are not given the opportunity to begin a career, or become established in a company, it is far more difficult to encourage this later in life; we should try to utilise the long term of the working population.

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No

The population of Britain is ageing. People are living longer, and forcing people to retire simply increases the heavy economic burden of pensioners on the state. The ratio of the dependent population to the working population is increasing, and a mandatory retirement age is an unnecessary measure which antagonises the problem. On the contrary, we should be actively encouraging those who are fit to continue working.

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Argument #3

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Yes

By freeing up more places in our professional hierarchies, we present younger people with opportunities to reach the heights of their career. Often in medicine and law especially younger employees must wait for an elder respected judge or consultant to retire in order to progress along the career ladder. This is also fairer on the younger working population. The caveat to this argument is that this will also allow the exposure of youthful talent. A mandatory retirement age allows younger employees with new, modern ideas to infiltrate the professions.

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No

It is naive to assume that we improve the standards and quality of the professions by introducing younger employees to the top positions. If we consider that it does take a number of years to reach the top of a particular field, it is unfair and unnecessary to curtail their work at this level. Furthermore, these experts are well-respected and highly proficient at their job, and bring the valuable advantage of experience to a demanding job.

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Argument #4

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Yes

If the basic principle is considered, it is also a matter of equal opportunities since it is unfair to force some members of society to retire at the age of 65 and allow others to work on.

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No

Each job is entirely independent – with different requirements, skills, wages and responsibilities. Certain professions require a heavy commitment and a long promotion schedule, and the working conditions and practices are not compared to other jobs. This argument is oversimplified; there is no necessity for equality in retirement age.

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Argument #5

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Yes

A mandatory retirement age should not be considered a punishment or a reprimand of the elderly in society. Indeed, it should be viewed as a well-earned rest and reward for 40 – 45 years of work. From the perspective of health it is far better to retire early at the age of 65, and professionals at this level are often the particular people at risk from stress related illness. Furthermore, retirement should not be seen as an end to activity; the retired population can participate in a variety of rewarding activities, from pursuing new or sidelined interests, to providing a strong voluntary base for community or charity work.

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No

It is not the jurisdiction of the state to decide what is best for an individual. If a person wishes to continue working, and is considered fit it is overprotective and insulting to prevent the from doing so.


Motions:

  • This house would believes in a mandatory retirement age
  • This house would put youth before experience
  • This house calls for professional retirement

In legislation, policy, and the real world:

See also

External links and resources:

Books:

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