Many professions, as well as companies, have mandatory retirement ages. A mandatory retirement age is the age at which a person in a particular job is automatically required to retire. It constitutes the maximum age at which a person can perform a particular job. Mandatory retirement ages remain controversial and their applicability differs by profession, although it has been largely abolished in the United States. However, in general, the concept of forcing workers to retire when they reach a particular age carries with it several advantages and disadvantages.
One of the main reasons that certain professions, such as police officer and air traffic controller, have mandatory retirement ages is to ensure that the person who is responsible for the safety of others remains competent to do his job. Based on the idea that after a certain age, people's physical reflexes and mental acuity are more likely to decline, these professions are not available to people over a certain age as a safety precaution.
Loss of Experience
One of the chief disadvantages of a mandatory retirement age is that it requires a number of people to leave a position at the height of their experience. This means that they will not be allowed to remain at the organization to pass on their knowledge to younger people. This may rob a particular profession of the group of people who know it best, thereby causing the overall competency of an organization to decline.
Younger Generation Entering Workforce
However, by pushing an older group of people out of a particular profession, this makes room for a younger generation to enter the workforce. If a profession does not see significant turnover, then younger people will often be less inclined to train to enter it. In the short term, this can leave young people who are trained for the profession out of work. Then, in the long term, when positions do become available, it lead to an overall shortage of qualified workers.
Loss of Income
Many people who are pushed out of a job after they reach a particular age are not qualified to perform other kinds of work. It is often extremely difficult for older workers to get hired, particularly for positions in which they have little experience. Therefore, a mandatory retirement age may be unfair for older workers who still need income, both for their current bills and to fund their retirement.
Michael Wolfe has been writing and editing since 2005, with a background including both business and creative writing. He has worked as a reporter for a community newspaper in New York City and a federal policy newsletter in Washington, D.C. Wolfe holds a B.A. in art history and is a resident of Brooklyn, N.Y.