Letter: Don't ditch the old

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Hamish McRae ("The looming battle between the young and the old", 10 November) highlights the extent to which the young in Europe will be taxed to support the old. He does not suggest one obvious way to reduce the burden: stop forcing older workers into unemployment.

Next March I will be 60, my contractual retirement age, and will start to receive a comfortable occupational pension. The Inland Revenue will oblige me to stop paying into my free-standing additional voluntary contributions and buy an annuity, of which the interest element will probably represent tax income.

I could take up golf, read all the books I haven't had time to read, improve my German and/or redecorate the house. But I would rather go on working, and am increasingly aware of how difficult this is likely to be.

It will go on being difficult until employers and employees change. Executives will have to exchange status and perks for less pay and less pressure. Employers will have to understand the different, less self-seeking motivation of older workers, and find ways to combine their experience with the energy of those still fighting their way up the corporate ladder.

The anticipated "dependency ratio" of non-workers to workers is not inevitable. Older people hate being a burden; stop pushing them out of jobs and into dependency, and there will be winners all round.


St Albans, Hertfordshire