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Could mass retirement prove to be a short-lived and unrepeated 20th-century phenomenon?

We enjoyed a demographic dividend that is coming to an end

By Norma Cohen  

Photo: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Archive/PA Images

Britain has had a culture of retirement—a workless period with a guaranteed income in old age—since at least the middle ages; the poet Geoffrey Chaucer in the late 14th century was granted several pensions for his contributions to culture. Henry VIII granted them to monks and abbesses who did not resist as their monasteries were confiscated during the Reformation. Servants, soldiers and sailors could get them, too.

But the idea of mass retirement for all, roughly in the seventh decade of life and financed in…

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