Marvin's Window: On France and aging

I looked out my window this weekend trying to see Lance Armstrong riding into Paris winning his fifth straight Tour de France title.

Of course, my window is just not that clear yet.

The Hualapai Mountains get in the way when I look east.

I suspect the French were waving white flags as an American won another race.

Actually, it is other news from France that caught my attention.

The French government raised to 40 the number of years one has to work for a full pension.

That sounds like a long time if you are in the early stages of a work career.

If you start work at 20, then you could qualify for a full pension in France at 60.

In the United States full Social Security eligibility is being gradually raised to age 67.

My sisters are both in that group where the retirement age begins to change.

Why work more years or to an older age for retirement? We are all living longer, healthier, more active lives.

Bob Hope died this week at 100.

He was born in 1903 when the life expectancy was 47.

Hope really beat the odds.

In those days most babies died soon after birth.

Death came from a long list of childhood diseases that are barely long lost memories today.

Few people lived long enough to have any concern about heart attacks, cancer and other diseases of older people.

The age for Social Security in the United States was originally set in 1937 when 65 was beyond the life expectancy of most.

Those who reached 62 or 65 and retired seldom lived much longer.

The baby boomer generation, born after WW II, is coming into retirement age and will surely change the system.

The numbers dictate that.

Business, government and the military have long used a 20-year employment minimum and 30 years for a full pension.

Today, life expectancy is about 80 in the United States and going up every year.

That means a person beginning a career teaching, in police or fire department, in the military or with a major corporation at age 21 can retire with full benefits at age 51.

The government.

military or a business could expect to pay that employee more years in retirement than they paid him or her as an active employee.

It is commonplace for people to "retire" and enter a second career and work long enough to earn a second retirement income.

The picture gets worse or much better.

Depending on how you look at it.

The U.S.

Census folks tell us that a baby girl born in 2003 has a life expectancy of 100.

Boys can expect to live to 95.

If Bob Hope could live to 100 born in 1903 when life expectancy was 47, some of those born in 2003 could beat the odds and live to 150 or more.

I have looked out my window in wonder trying to see what changes are coming in the rest of 2003 for those people living longer lives.

The whole system of working and retirement is in for major change.

As we live longer and stay healthy and active, many of us will work a lot more years.

Maybe our society will change from a youth orientation to more regard for the wisdom and experience that comes to some with age.

The demographics will change how we live as we live longer and longer.

Americans are blessed with long and productive lives.

Many older Americans are living some of the best years of their lives.

The reality is that spending most of the state budget for education of young could change as the population demographics altars needs.

Health care will continue to be a major expenditure, in my opinion.

And most people will work longer as retirement benefits change.

France is facing some reality by raising the number of years of work required.

More money for health care and retirement in school, city, military and business budgets is a reality that can only get larger.

What kind of changes would for see for a population might include more and more people aged 80 to 150?

Can you imagine some of your children or grandchildren living to be 150?

My attitude would change if I actually thought I could live past 125.