Nasty, Brutish, Short: What Retirement Used to Be

Financial Advisor IQ reminds us that the concept of “retirement” is, for most people, a relatively recent one.

Traditionally, people worked until they died.  People working on farms, or more recently in factories, worked until they were too old to get up and “retired” in the homes of their children.

U.S. labor force participation by men 65 and over dropped from nearly 80{030251e622a83165372097b752b1e1477acc3e16319689a4bdeb1497eb0fac93} in 1880 to just over 22{030251e622a83165372097b752b1e1477acc3e16319689a4bdeb1497eb0fac93} in 2010.  …  the 20th century was brutal for most elderly. Just after World War II, one quarter of U.S. families looked to an elderly breadwinner for sustenance, and most single old folks had to get by on less than $80 a month — around $320 in today’s money.

We can thank God, our parents and ancestors, for building a country where obesity rather than hunger is a problem and living too long is one of the biggest concerns.  Much of the rest of the world is still where we were over a century ago.


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