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Equal retirement age is NOT equality

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This article is based on text originally posted on a site which longer exists, on 21 September 2011. The gender death gap has narrowed slightly since then but this topic is just as relevant today as it was eight years ago.

In the UK at the moment there is a lot of justified rage at the way men are continuing to be discriminated against on state pension. Since 1946, there has been deliberate discrimination that set the age that men get a pension from the state at five years higher (65) than women (60) even though women have always lived longer. The gender death gap has increased since 1946, largely due to unequal gender health expenditure that now enables women to have an average life six years longer than men.

The UK government finally equalised the state retirement ages in November 2018.

The move to equalise male and female pension ages began 25 years ago, under John Major’s government, and has been gradually phased in.

Women who are 65 on 6 November will therefore be the first to wait for as long as men.

BBC News, 5 November 2018

The mathematics of discrimination

I’m now going to explain why women having the same retirement age as men is NOT equality. My proof for this is based on the United Kingdom but I believe much the same result would come from looking at any country’s data, other than Mexico.

Working from government statistics (197Kb – Xls) for the year 2008 (the latest year that nationwide statistics are available) it can be calculated that the average age of adult male death is 74 years and six weeks. Similarly, the average age of adult female death is 80 years and four weeks. So, for all but two weeks, the difference is that women outlive men by six years. (If we look at the difference based on average age of death of child and adult, the gap widens to over six years.)

The voting age; the ages of compulsory education; the age when people must start paying taxes and National Insurance (supposedly, state pension fund): all of these have affected the genders the same way for almost everyone alive today.

At a retirement age of 66, the average life expectancy after retirement is:
Males: 8.1 years
Females: 14.1 years

This means that the proportion of adult life spent in retirement is:
Males: 10.9%
Females: 17.6% Proposal for ‘equality’

For equality between the genders to be achieved, there obviously has to be parity on retirement time. Without that, men are paying into a state pension fund where the vast majority of that fund is going to women. To correct this, the genders must have the same chance at retirement. I suggest that to work on absolute time in retirement is not equitable as that could mean men effectively paying in less for the amount they draw; instead the proportion of adult life (not total life) is the way to achieve equality.

Assuming males retire at 66 this gives us:
Males: retire age 66 years, to get 10.9% of adult life in retirement
Females: retire age 71 years, 19 weeks, to get 10.9% of adult life in retirement.

Clearly, the idea of retiring at the same age to get “equality” is very attractive to most women. (Even so, there are many women, and entire political parties that are against it!) Now that women have been brought closer to being made to be equal to men, it is time to start looking into the matter of real equality.

Of course, the UK could start to fund men’s health programs in the way it does women’s. That would increase the average longevity for men and be a far better solution. In the meantime, let’s not pretend that women have been made to be equal to men in state retirement benefits: there’s still a gender pension gap.

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