Sociologist Beth Truesdale says we are fortunate to live in an aging society with health, prosperity and longevity that is unprecedented in the history of the world. But, “as a society ages, it changes everything,” she said.
Not everyone has good health; workforce age discrimination is not uncommon; and there are other forms of inequality that prevent people from working longer to have financial security in retirement, Truesdale said.
There are three things important for working longer: jobs, health and family dynamics.
Truesdale said we need to improve the quality and stability of jobs for younger people so everyone can afford a decent retirement. “High quality, stable, jobs in middle age are the main precursor to working at older ages. But stable jobs are becoming more rare,” she said.
Improving the quality of jobs for younger people — and for older people as well — means:
flexibility that applies to employees, not just to employers
supportive bosses and colleagues
jobs that give meaning and value
Truesdale said if we make investments that improve people's lives when they're young and middle aged, everyone will benefit.
Truesdale spoke on Nov. 13, 2019, at the St. Olaf College Institute for Freedom and Community. Director Edmund Santurri introduced the program. Truesdale is a St. Olaf College alumna and a researcher at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies. She is co-editing a book titled, "Overtime: America's Aging Workforce and the Future of Working Longer."