“Sixty’s the new 60.”

Several people whose opinions I respect have mentioned Marc Freedman and his organization, Civic Ventures, so I found myself listening to an interview with Freedman on AARP’s Prime Time Radio. Talking about his new book (Encore: Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life), Freedman declares the nature of what it means to grow older in America to be “under radical revision. For a long time the dream in this country was liberation from labor. Now it’s becoming a dream around the freedom to work.” [emphasis his]


Interesting point, and substantiated by all sorts of statistics about older workings staying in the labor market after 65, and baby boomers planning to do so. But what really made me prick up my ears was a comment by interview Mike Cuthbert: “Saying that ‘sixty is the new 40’ drives me crazy, because it reinforces the concept that younger is better.” That’s the subject of a December post about “Youth creep”, and I loved Freedman’s response: “Sixty is the new 60.” Pointing out that the concept of adolescence didn’t exist until the beginning of the 20th century, he says we’re inventing a new stage of life between the end of first careers and actual, full-time retirement. The people octo- and nonagenarians I’m studying are outliers, but it looks as though they’re going to have a lot more company in the decades to come.

3 thoughts on ““Sixty’s the new 60.”

  1. Your website is a validation of our work in the positive aging movement. We at 2young2retire.com believe that retirement is an artificial deadline that is wasting the experience, wisdom and unique talents of our mature population. It is time to send the concept into museums and history books now that most of us will be alive and well 20 to 30 years past our full time jobs.

    Society needs us to stay engaged, learning and vital. Continuing to work, on our own terms, will be a great contribution to our well being, our families and society.

  2. Some years ago, as I was researching material for a book, I had the pleasure to meet and interview women, ages 65-95, who were still working in their fields and still passionate about what they were doing. I was a bit younger when I did that, and thought of these women as “older” and unusual. They were all high achieving in the fields of the hard sciences and the arts. They grew up before the time when women left the home to make a name for themselves in the public sphere. The research morphed into a book called Women Who Could…and Did: Lives of 26 Exemplary Artists and Scientists.

    Now Boomer women have had more opportunity and cultural acceptance about working and striving and making a difference in the world through their work. So, of course they’ll want to continue to do what gave them a lot of satisfaction during their mid-years. At least, they’ll want to find a way to continue to use their energy, skills, and wisdom in some “work” forum.

    My blog, http://www.RetirementAsYouWantIt.com, targets Boomers, men and women, who want to create a “retirement” that includes some productive activity…something that they believe adds value to the world. That can be paid employment, entrepreneurship, volunteering, mentoring, caregiving, lifelong learning…as well as recreation and leisure activities. Having the freedom to choose from that smorgasbord of delicacies is what marks many of our Boomers who are anticipating retirement.

    It’s great to find a blog that celebrates the energy of people at work into their later years!

    1. it seems intuitively obvious why high-achievers — artists, scientists, people with their own businesses — keep on the job as long as possible. as a life coach, how you advise ordinary working people who may not have a "passion", or see
      it as such? what questions should i be asking these octogenarians in order to help those readers? thanks.

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