TED Conversations

Closing Statement from Christine C. Marcks, Prudential Retirement

Thank you all for a dynamic conversation over the past three weeks around how we -- as individuals, as financial services providers and as a society -- can help address the challenge of retirement as people live longer. TED Conversations is a new forum for us, and we found your comments and this experience very insightful.

I believe there are concrete steps people can take to better prepare for their retirement. For starters, workers can improve their savings and investing behavior. Secondly, participants in workplace plans such as 401(k)'s should try to include some sort of guaranteed income component in their retirement planning.

We will also continue this conversation in other forums, and will add to the national debate through white papers on our company's Research & Perspectives site, http://research.prudential.com/view/page/rp .


Christine C. Marcks
Prudential Retirement

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    Apr 10 2012: Wow, I am somewhat surprised about the hostile tone people are taking towards the concept of retirement! Somewhat surprised, but not completely.

    The whole concept of 'not working' for 30+ years is heresy in many cultures - especially American culture where people are told that they should work and contribute unless for some reason they can't (such as disability or very advanced age - and then there are people who argue that the disabled and old should work too).

    The fact is that retirement made sense when people did physically demanding labor and their bodies shut down at 65. You can only dig ditches for so long before your knees, shoulder, etc gave out. In today's environment where many people ride a desk for 8 hours a day, retirement simply makes less sense.

    I am for giving a lower retirement age for people who work 10+ years in physically demanding jobs (construction, etc) or who have severe health issues and making the retirement age 62 and raising the age for people who do not engage in physically demanding work. If you are sitting at a desk and have good health, realistically, you can work until 70 and beyond.

    The real wrinkle in all of this is the obesity/health care epidemic. We are going to see people - a lot younger than retirement age - in their 50's who are incapacitated due to lifestyle choices such as poor diet, lack of exercise or smoking.

    Personally, the only people who I know who look forward to retirement are people who hate their jobs and see retirement as a ticket out. They want to leave the workforce, but have no idea what they'll do with their lives once they retire. Part of the solution is finding work that is fulfilling and that you love while you are in the work force. Then you'll never want to retire.
    • Apr 16 2012: Well said.
      It is amazing how immature many can be on these matters, not sure I exactly agree with your perspective, nor need of I to,, nor you for me too, however, personal responsibility and maturity in these matters is paramount. We are leaving Baby Boomers, and the Me generation in the dustbins of their own delusions.
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      Apr 18 2012: As someone who sat at a desk and also maintained a healthy level of exercise throughout my "main career", I can tell you that desk jobs are not easy on the body. I do not believe we were designed to sit and work for long stretches of time. I am the ripe age of 61, nominally retired. That means I left my killer desk job for a life of my own design.

      When we were still in grade school, we were being told automation would replace most jobs and we should prepare ourselves for a life of leisure. The 40 hour work week would go out the window. Instead, the reality was the 60 hour work week, for the professional.

      I seriously doubt this will translate to the longevity projected for this generation. It is more likely the idea that over half of us will live to be 90 is the same sort of fable as the automation taking over work of people. Beyond that, the diseases of these times are increasingly autoimmune disorders that are episodic and debilitating. The source of which are for another discussion.

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