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Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

Print Price: $20.99

176 pp.
23 graphs; 2 tables; 1 b/w figure, 6" x 9"


Publication date:
September 2013

Imprint: OUP Canada

Retirement in Canada

Thomas R. Klassen

Series : Issues in Canada

A century ago, the average Canadian lifespan was 60; today, we can expect to live 20 years longer than that. And recent generations have witnessed other major social shifts in Canada, from women entering the workforce to alterations in traditional career patterns, from evolutions in the once-inviolable nuclear family to the decline of employer pension schemes. As the arc of our lives continues to change, so too will the experience of our retirement.

An important factor in the changing reality of retirement is the influence of the baby boom generation, the demographic group born in the wake of World War II, which comprises some 30 percent of the Canadian population. As this generation has transformed society, challenging gender and ethnic stereotypes and redefining popular culture, so will it transform the choices and challenges associated with retirement. But as Thomas R. Klassen - a professor of political science and public policy and also a well-known media commentator - notes, this generation is not a homogeneous block, and there are few constants in the preferences of those near retirement, as well as those already retired. Unlike the past, the future of retirement holds a wide range of possibilities.

This short, accessible book brings together what we know about the changes taking place, as well as what we can predict. The media often foretell of intergenerational conflict and a reduced standard of living as our population ages, but the reality is likely to be different. Klassen considers retirement from many angles. The changing demographic trends in Canada, along with other Western nations, provide fascinating insights into the past, present, and future. Another chapter describes the structure of income security for older Canadians, including its origins in the welfare state as well as its successes and failures. Klassen also looks forward to how retirement pensions will change in coming years. Other chapters look at the debate around mandatory retirement, newer approaches such as phased retirement and "unretirement," as well as new attitudes and expectations.

Klassen's evaluation of the choices and challenges associated with retirement also considers how retirement looks from a range of perspectives: how it is encountered by the individual and family, by the employer, and by governments creating and amending public policy. The options for adapting to wide-scale retirement include some creative and forward-looking ideas, such as the lessons Canadians can learn from developing countries. Retirement, predicts Klassen, will become more buffet-like rather than à la carte, an adaptive and gradual transition rather than an on-off switch.

This surprisingly engaging book shows that while there are many different ways to think about retirement, we should keep the facts close at hand as we enter the "unknown country" of widespread demographic change and retirement.

Readership : The market for this volume includes the political science, sociology, and policy studies, as well as gerontology studies. Also interested will be those whose job involves helping people plan for retirement (counsellors, financial planners, mortgage brokers, etc.). General readers interested in issues associated with our aging population will also be a key market.

List of Illustrations
Introduction: The Complexity of Retirement
1. Demographics
2. The Mandatory Retirement Debate
3. Income Security
4. Shifting Attitudes, with Karen Elizabeth Fernandes
5. The Changing Nature of Retirement
6. Conclusion

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Thomas R. Klassen is a professor in the Department of Political Science, and the School of Public Policy and Administration, at York University in Toronto. He has written extensively on retirement and income security for older Canadians, and teaches courses on the politics of aging. In the past decade he been an expert witness on legal cases dealing with retirement, advised governments on retirement policy, and lectured widely on the topic. Prior to becoming a professor, Dr. Klassen worked in government.

Aging in Canada - Neena L. Chappell and Marcus J. Hollander
Poverty in Canada - Raghubar D. Sharma
Canada and Conflict - Patrick James
Crime in Canada - Diane Crocker
Problem Gambling in Canada - Lorne Tepperman and Kristy Wanner
Racism in Canada - Vic Satzewich
Energy in Canada - Peter Sinclair
Climate Change in Canada - Rodney White
Child Poverty in Canada - Patrizia Albanese
Understanding Social Inequality - Julie McMullin
Choices and Constraints in Family Life - Maureen Baker
Aging As a Social Process - Barry D. McPherson and Andrew Wister
Substance Abuse in Canada - Marilyn Herie and Wayne Skinner

Special Features

  • Clear and comprehensive discussion of a life event now faced by baby boomers. There are 9.6 million persons, or close to three out of ten Canadians, that were born between 1946 and 1965. This group has become very interested in books on retirement.
  • A rare book with effectively no competing titles. There are lots of "here's what you should do" books but virtually none that are accessible, provide facts and options in a balanced, reliable context.
  • Beautifully written. Klassen is a regular media commentator in such media as the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star, known for his clear, engaging style.
  • Canadian vital signs. Canada faces some unique issues in its demographic mix, from immigration patterns to employment paradigms; this is the only book to consider those specific issues.
  • International comparison. Author has experience of the retirement situation in other countries; Canada's positioning with regards to other nations is fascinating (Men in Mexico retire at 72; women in Austria at 57).
  • Graphics help display key information. Age pyramids, life expectancy charts, and old-age dependency ratios provide eye-opening insight into the kinds of changes Canada is facing.
  • What we should worry about, and what we shouldn't. Our social safety net will not be bankrupted by retiring baby boomers, nor will the future be characterized by intergenerational conflict, but income security remains a key issue.
  • Touches on some of the most important debates of our times. Including discussions about mandatory retirement and the human rights of older adults, this book gives a balanced look at the hot-button issues facing Canada.