Do you think of yourself as "young old"? Are you one of the "working retired"? If so, you're in what author
"We've got large numbers of people who aren't in midlife anymore, but they're really not going to be old for a long period of
time," says Freedman, author of
The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Midlife.
Freedman is the CEO of
With people living healthier, longer lives, Freedman's book argues for creating a new map of life that includes a new stage between the middle years and true old age.
"People who are coming up to that juncture right now are realizing they are not going to be 'old' for 20 years, and probably can't sustain a retirement that's decades in duration," he says. "So they're thinking about this chapter in a new way."
"This period gets portrayed as kind of half of midlife, and half of old age," Freedman argues. "But it deserves its own name, its own social institutions and public policies."
Before the economy melted down in 2008, the idea of midlife reinvention was mainly aspirational. Since then, tough new economic realities have transformed it from a virtue into a necessity for millions of older Americans who simply can't afford to quit working.
But at a time when the jobs picture looks bleak, Freedman remains optimistic about the potential contributions of older workers. And his book looks far beyond the immediate economic crisis.
Freedman sees encore careers as a key solution to the challenges we face as the population ages. "We hear a lot about dependency ratios, how walkers are going to outnumber strollers. It's almost as if people turn 60 and they suddenly become infirm, and that's true of some people.
"But we've got people who have an enormous amount of experience, and I think for the first time in our history in these big numbers, it's time to do something with it," he says. "Productive older workers can have a positive impact as taxpayers and by lightening the demands on entitlement programs such as
But Freedman also is quick to argue that defining a new stage of life isn't only about the baby boom generation. Instead, it can be a long-term-game changer for society.
"The boomers are developing this period of life, but their children and millennials are going to live longer lives than the boomers, and they'll eventually move into this period," he notes. "So I think if we develop this as a time of productivity, contribution, and growth, it's these younger generations that will inhabit that time in a way that's most fulfilling."
"This actually is going to change the whole shape of American lives, and really lives throughout the developed world because young people in the future will make different decisions at 18 or 22 knowing that there's more than one bite at the apple," Freedman says.
Freedman's book urges adoption of policy ideas to help people save and train for midlife career transitions. For example, we could help people plan in advance for funding a future period of job retraining via Individual Purpose Accounts that offer favorable tax treatment and employer matches to help fund midlife career transition--a sort of cousin to the 401(k).
Or, allow people to draw
"I think, our whole pattern of education in life is going to change," Freedman says. "People are going to save less for a balloon payment of disengagement at the end of life and more for these inevitable transitions, and I think, for many people that transition comes in the late 50s or early 60s."
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Personal Finance - Author Maps New Phase of Life Between Middle and Old Age
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