Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Getting Better With Age? Woody Allen and the Graying of America

My wife and I went to see Woody Allen's new movie Midnight in Paris yesterday.

We thought it was terrific, and, judging from the packed theater that burst into applause at the end of the movie, most of the viewers enjoyed the movie as well.

Woody Allen is now 75 years old, and Midnight in Paris is his 41st movie.

While I am not a movie critic, I think it is fair to say that while the content of Mr. Allen's films have changed considerably from his earlier years, the quality remains of the highest caliber.

Mr. Allen's work ethic has not been slowed by his age, a trait he shares with a number of individuals in areas such as finance and law.

Americans, it seems, have become less eager to retire, and with advances in health care we are able to work longer than previous generations were either able or desired.

However, this trend is not without its controversial aspects, particularly in situations where older workers are not producing the same level of work as their younger counterparts.

The New York Times on Saturday carried an interesting article on this subject. Here's an excerpt:

As roughly 44 million baby boomers hit retirement age over the next decade, the problem of how and when to step aside is becoming a hot-button issue, said Robert J. Gordon, a professor of economics at Northwestern University. Many older workers have had to put off retirement because of stock market losses during the recent deep recession. And while unemployment among older workers is lower than the national average at 6.2 percent, it is up sharply from three years ago, when it stood at 2.9 percent.


Writing in the Financial Times over the weekend, Gillian Tett observed that this desire to avoid retirement seems to be largely an American phenomena.

According to Ms. Tett, in Europe, retirement is something that is eagerly anticipated rather than dreaded - recall the large protests in France when President Sarkozy tried to raise the French retirement age from 60 to 62 years old.

Still, with nearly every industrial country facing huge fiscal shortfalls, and with birthrates still low in Europe and the United States, delaying retirement may become more the norm than the exception globally.