Several people whose opinions I respect have mentioned Marc Freedman and his organization, Civic Ventures, so I found myself listening to an interview with Freedman on AARP’s Prime Time Radio. Talking about his new book (Encore: Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life), Freedman declares the nature of what it means to grow older in America to be “under radical revision. For a long time the dream in this country was liberation from labor. Now it’s becoming a dream around the freedom to work.” [emphasis his]
Interesting point, and substantiated by all sorts of statistics about older workings staying in the labor market after 65, and baby boomers planning to do so. But what really made me prick up my ears was a comment by interview Mike Cuthbert: “Saying that ‘sixty is the new 40’ drives me crazy, because it reinforces the concept that younger is better.” That’s the subject of a December post about “Youth creep”, and I loved Freedman’s response: “Sixty is the new 60.” Pointing out that the concept of adolescence didn’t exist until the beginning of the 20th century, he says we’re inventing a new stage of life between the end of first careers and actual, full-time retirement. The people octo- and nonagenarians I’m studying are outliers, but it looks as though they’re going to have a lot more company in the decades to come.