Behind the geraniums

For years the government has been talking about trying to develop a more realistic attitude to retirement in the Netherlands.

This was originally seen as a necessary measure to try to offset the cost of the greying population – fewer and fewer workers are faced with paying the bill for a growing army of pensioners.
And now a gradual increase in the retirement age is being mooted as a sensible way of reducing the effect of the recession on the budget deficit as well.
The unions are totally opposed to any increase but looking at it logically, we should all be working longer. The state pension age of 65 was introduced in 1957 when we were expected to live into our early 70s. Now we are expected to live at least an extra five years.
But at the moment, only one in 10 women and one in four men aged over 60 is still in paid work at all – meaning the effective retirement age for most people is far lower.
Today a survey by the health research group Lifeguard reveals that one-third of the over-50s feel they will be mentally or physically unable to stay in work until they reach the age of 65.
But somebody has to foot the bill for their retirement – or life behind the geraniums, as it is known in the Netherlands.
What is needed is a healthy dose of realism. We live longer and are richer and healthier than we have ever been, so we can work just a few months longer as well.

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