Sunday, September 02, 2007

On Retirement and Semi Retirement

Received this from my friend and fellow spiritual traveller, Punna. This is in line with Blogpastor's post on Can I Retire?

Optimum Strategies for Creativity and Longevity
By Sing Lin, Ph.D.
Member of National Council of Chinese Institute of Engineers – USA/Greater New York Chapter, and Member of Board of Director of National Taiwan University Alumni Association – Greater New York (March 2002)

1. Most Creative Years in the Life

The Nobel Laureate, Dr. Leo Esaki, delivered the distinguished lecture entitled "Innovation and Evolution: Reflections on a Life in Research" in the University of Texas at Dallas in the afternoon of Feb. 23, 2002 during the 2002 US National Engineering Week. In this lecture, Dr. Esaki indicated that most of the great discoveries and innovations by the Nobel Laureates occurred at the average age of 32 even though the Nobel prizes were awarded 10 or 20 years afterwards. Furthermore, Dr. Esaki indicated that the peak creativity of most scientists occurred around the age range of 20 to 30 years. As one gets older, the experience increases but the creativity decreases steadily with the age.

It is, therefore, very important to stimulate, encourage and cultivate many young people to get interested in science and engineering at their young age and to provide the optimal R&D environment for these very powerful young scientists and engineers to unleash their very strong creativities during their most precious and creative years around the age of 32.

2. Longevity Vs. Retirement Age

The pension funds in many large corporations (e.g., Boeing, Lockheed Martin, AT&T, Lucent Technologies, etc.) have been "Over Funded" because many "late retirees" who keep-on working into their old age and retire late after the age of 65 tend to die within two years after their retirements. In other words, many of these late retirees do not live long enough to collect all their fair shares of pension money such that they leave a lot of extra-unused money in the pension funds resulting in the over-funded pension funds.

Dr. Ephrem (Siao Chung) Cheng provided the important results in the following Table 1 from an actuarial study of life span vs. age at retirement. The study was based on the number of pension checks sent to retirees of Boeing Aerospace.

Table 1 – Actuarial Study of life span vs. age at retirement
Age at Retirement (Average Age At Death)

Table 1 indicates that for people retired at the age of 50, their average life span is 86; whereas for people retired at the age of 65, their average life span is only 66.8. An important conclusion from this study is that for every year one works beyond age 55, one loses 2 years of life span on average.

The Boeing experience is that employees retiring at age of 65 receive pension checks for only 18 months, on average, prior to death. Similarly, the Lockheed experience is that employees retiring at age of 65 receive pension checks for only 17 months, on average, prior to death. Dr. David T. Chai indicated that the Bell Labs experience is similar to those of Boeing and Lockheed based on the casual observation from the Newsletters of Bell Lab retirees. A retiree from Ford Motor told Dr. Paul Tien-Lin Ho that the experience from Ford Motor is also similar to those in Boeing and Lockheed.

The hard-working late retirees probably put too much stress on their aging body-and-mind such that they are so stressed out to develop various serious health problems that forced them to quit and retire. With such long-term stress-induced serious health problems, they die within two years after they quit and retire.

On the other hand, people who take early retirements at the age of 55 tend to live long and well into their 80s and beyond. These earlier retirees probably are either wealthier or more able to plan and manage their various aspects of their life, health and career well such that they can afford to retire early and comfortably.

These early retirees are not really idling after their early retirements to get old. They still continue doing some work. But they do the work on the part-time basis at a more leisure pace so that they do not get too stressed out. Furthermore, they have the luxury to pick and chose the types of part-time work of real interest to them so that they can enjoy and love doing that "fun" work at a more leisure pace.

The late retirees are small in number, tend to die quickly after retirement and disappear from the population of old people beyond the age of 70. Late retirees, therefore, have very little weight on the statistical average life expectancy of the population of "old people" dominated by the early retirees.

Conclusion and Recommendations

The most precious, creative and innovative period in your life is the 10-year period around the age of 32. Plan your career path to use this precious 10-year period wisely and effectively to produce your greatest achievements in your life.

The pace of innovations and technology advances is getting faster and faster and is forcing everybody to compete fiercely at the Internet speed on the information super-highways. The highly productive and highly efficient workplace in USA is a pressure-cooker and a high-speed battleground for highly creative and dynamic young people to compete and to flourish.

However, when you get older, you should plan your career path and financial matter so that you can retire comfortably at the age of 55 or earlier to enjoy your long, happy and leisure retirement life into your golden age of 80s and beyond. In retirement, you can still enjoy some fun work of great interest to you and of great values to the society and the community, but at a part-time leisure pace on your own term.

On the other hand, if you are not able to get out of the pressure-cooker or the high-speed battleground at the age of 55 and "have" to keep on working very hard until the age of 65 or older before your retirement, then you probably will die within 18 months of retirement. By working very hard in the pressure cooker for 10 more years beyond the age of 55, you give up at least 20 years of your life span on average.

Personally I feel that there is a watershed is all our life. I do not think there should be a fixed age about it. Before this age, say 55 years, we are working hard first to establish our careers, to start and develop our families (for those married), to serve our churches, and to improve ourselves. The watershed comes after our children have graduated from university (and begin their own lives), and we have reached the peak in our chosen careers. We then move into a stage of producing significance. In this stage we do not have to worry about paying for our children's education, our mortgages should be paid up and as Fowler said, we should be thinking about our legacy. What do we want to leave behind? I believe our legacy should not be physical but spiritual.

Retirement? I do not think it is biblical and we should serve Him until He calls us home.

soli deo gloria



Blogger pearlie said...

Thanks for posting this - it is very informative.

You don't think retirement is biblical? Interesting, I never thought of it but I have always believe that as far as serving God is concerned, we serve until he says time's up! i.e. until he calls us home.

I did a check on "retire" and found this:

Number 8:24-26
24 "This applies to the Levites: from twenty-five years old and upward they shall come to do duty in the service of the tent of meeting. 25 And from the age of fifty years they shall withdraw from the duty of the service and serve no more. 26 They minister to their brothers in the tent of meeting by keeping guard, but they shall do no service. Thus shall you do to the Levites in assigning their duties."

And on top of it, it only applies to the Levites! What can we make out of it?

7:58 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

aside from the fact that after 50 you become a jaga? Not much, I'm afraid :)

6:56 PM  
Blogger Paul Long said...

Interesting post.

I thik "retirement" is needed in the sense that older ones need to step aside to allow the younger ones to serve.

Older ones should however not retire in the sense that they are to sit at home twidlling their thumbs and saying things like "we have done our share, let the younger ones now do the work"

They should continue to minister but in the capacity of a "guard" (as in mentor, advisor, encourager, coming alongside")

6:42 AM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

hi paul,

I do so agree with you. The older folks should not be put out to 'pastures' because they have so much to contribute.

Unfortunately, in our Asian culture, in spite of our reverence for age, it seems that the older folks tend remove themselves from active service. On the other hand, I am constantly amazed at the energy and service by the Western older folks. I wonder why this is so.

3:13 AM  
Blogger Paul Long said...

In NZ, retirement age is 65...
People here seem to live longer too (unlike the stats you quoted)

The former pastor of the church I am in is over 70 and is an active minister despite his retirement. Lots of aches and pains but he still helps as a guest or adjunct lecturer in 3 Bible colleges / training schools, preaches more than half the Sundays a year and mentors people and leads a home group Bible study.

Unlike what stats may suggest, perhaps too many people retire too soon but do not keep their hearts and minds active?

Of late I keep coming back to the idea of the need for rhythm ... not work like a dog and then burn out and quit! :-)

9:28 AM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

hi paul,

I like your thoughts on the rhythm of life.

When I was a young Christian in the Varsity I was trained to "burnt out for Jesus". Burn your candle at both ends, I am taught. No wonder I am such a neurotic Christian :)

2:25 AM  

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