According to the gerontologist Dr Aubrey De Gray, the first person who will live to 150 has already been born. You have to wonder whether the first person who will work to 150 has already been born as well. Not far off if George Osborne has his way.
I’d like to have the option of retiring at 65, in 10 years’ time (though 55 would be even better). I’ll have to wait till I’m 67, and my children, who won’t be reaching three-score-years-and-10 until the 2070s will, on the basis of today’s statement by Mr Osborne, be clocking off at 69. In fact by then the age will be even higher, probably – what's the betting it will be north of 75?
If, indeed, there are state-provided old age pensions at all by then. Surely pension provision will have been privatised, and old age insurance will be compulsory in the way as car insurance. I’m sure there are conservative think tanks out there thinking about little else.
Which means my children and their peers, and anyone else with the misfortune of having been born this century, will have to spend much more time, thought, energy and cash on making sure they’re OK when old age starts to kick in (in, roughly, their 14th or 15th decade if Dr De Gray’s right). Perhaps by then some of them will have been able to come off work experience and get a proper job.
No wonder we baby-boomers and Generation X-ers are being judged harshly by succeeding generations. There’s an American video uploaded to upworthy.com, “The best response for when anyone calls young people lazy today”, which starts out with an apology by a bunch of them about being lazy, feckless and immature but which over a couple of minutes turns into a biting indictment of the world we’re bequeathing them. “Hey, what was the deal with that recession, anyway? I think it had something to do with the housing bubble that started in the '90s. I don't know, I was still pretty young back then.”
As for jobs, they point out, manufacturing was outsourced in the '90s, a big chunk of new jobs are part-time and we’ve destroyed the global economy anyway. But these things go in cycles, and if they’re living to 150 they’ll surely see at least one boom in their lifetime.
For me, though I joke about early retirement, the prospect of working into my late sixties is absolutely fine because I’m in a job I like doing. I wouldn’t feel the same if I were a lavatory cleaner, say, or a Tory spin doctor. Whether journalism-as-we-know-it can make it into my late sixties is a whole other subject.