December 21, 2016

Prudential Retirement’s Amy KesslerLiving longer is a triumph of advances in medicine and nutrition, as well as the steady decline of harmful habits like smoking. But the flip side to Americans’ increasing ability to live longer is that many struggle to prepare for a retirement that is, on average, 40 percent longer than just a few decades ago. 

“The retirement age of 65 is completely out of date,” said Amy Kessler, head of Prudential Retirement’s Longevity Risk Transfer business. “It’s important to recognize that it was set up as a safety net, and it has now become an entitlement. Having people spend, on average, 19 years in retirement doesn’t make financial sense.”

Kessler joined a slate of prominent longevity experts and futurists at The Economist’s recent “Business of Longevity” conference in San Francisco, which was sponsored by Prudential.

America’s retirement age of 65 was initially proposed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Committee on Economic Security and adopted as part of the Social Security Act in 1935 to protect the elderly from destitution. Eighty years later, Americans are still retiring around 65, even though the life expectancy of people in advanced countries has grown by roughly 2.5 years each decade.

In many developed countries, people aged 65 and over constitute the fastest growing segment of the population. The United States, barring a material change, will have only three workers supporting each retiree by 2050 – an unsustainable demographic shift.

Kessler said society will need to “rethink everything from education to retirement and investment … How we move through life with learning, saving, investing and planning will have to be entirely different.”

One solution requires rethinking education’s role because people will need periodic training to ensure they can work as long as they wish. “Lifelong learning will be crucial to making sure that folks have the skills to adapt to a changing job market over a 40-year career,” Kessler said. “Many people are retiring today before they want to because their skills are out of date.”

To see a video of the panel discussion, please visit The Economist Events Facebook page.

Want to talk to Amy Kessler about what retirement will look like in the future? Please contact Josh Stoffregen at 973-802-3996.


Retirement products and services are provided by Prudential Retirement Insurance and Annuity Company (PRIAC), Hartford, CT, a Prudential Financial company.

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Josh Stoffregen
Phone: 973-802-3996