The retirement age in our beloved Ghana is pegged at 60, and that keeps me awake at night. Don’t misunderstand me. I am not in any way affected, but that does not preclude me from thinking of all my good friends who have reached that milestone and are contemplating life after retirement.
Is it going to be days and nights spent whiling away time with the wife, children and grandchildren, or time to begin a new professional career, vastly different from what was just given up?
This is the conundrum that many early retirees in the public sector find themselves in. Forced out at the age of 60 when their mental and physical faculties are still intact, they feel rejected, unworthy, and unappreciated by a society they spent their lifetimes serving. And these good men and women are left wondering why they could not be retained for a lot longer to continue working for the public good.
A lawyer friend of mine who was a classmate in the late 1970s recently told me in a very sad tone the prospects he faces as he thinks of retirement; he was very explicit. He said his days will be longer, and filled with thoughts of how much more energy and service he had left in him to contribute to the good of society.
I was taken aback by my friend’s sad narration because I just could not imagine him packing it in, retiring that early. He is still relatively young at age 60 and looks every bit as healthy as a young man of 20. I sympathized greatly with him and wish him well.
My friend’s dilemma and that of countless others who have been forced out at age 60 has received scant attention from government. It is difficult to rationalize the government’s behavior, to understand why it still sends public servants out to pasture at the relatively young age of 60.
Previous governments did not demonstrate any intention and the current one has not expressed any interest in increasing the retirement age despite plenty of evidence that points to the numerous benefits inherent in changing the policy.
The reason always advanced by government for maintaining this policy is: “we need to create room for the young ones.” Of course, creating employment for the youth should be government’s top priority but that it should not be done at the expense of experienced hands, older workers.
To say that the policy is counterproductive is to be charitable; it is just plain silly and unfairly condemns good men and women to long periods of inactivity that eventually take a toll on their lives.
We all ought to be troubled by this policy; our country needs capable public servants regardless of their age to keep the hospitals, schools, police stations and ministries humming, working for the good of all.
While advance nations are fighting to increase their retirement age, the United States for instance has upped its retirement age to 66 for those born in the 1950s and 70 for those born after that just so there will be enough workers to pay into the government’s social security pension scheme.
France at one time pegged its retirement age at 55, and for a while it worked beautifully.It was the most generous in Europe. However, when the country faced economic difficulties, French policy makers realized they had to up the retirement age if they were to manage the challenges.
In developing countries such as ours, 60 is considered ancient, too old, and herein lies the problem. Sixty is today’s thirty and for a good reason; advances in medicine, science and technology are making it possible for people to live longer, healthier lives and contribute to the progress of their communities.
In my estimation, sixty is just too young an age to force an individual still capable of contributing immensely to the public good to give up what they love doing and walk off into the sunset.
Our policy makers should take a long, hard look at our retirement age and do something about it because the country is dispatching good men and women too early when it should be retaining them. Retiring at sixty is grossly unfair.