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During the second half of the 20th century, the average age of retirement fell in the developed world. At the same time, life expectancy rose. The consequences of these facts for pensions are obvious. If pensions are to keep pace with earnings, then funded schemes need ever-increasing contributions and unfunded, pay-as-you-go schemes require ever-increasing tax rates. Yet it was not until the 1990s that people woke up to this problem.

From the mid-1960s to the mid-1990s, the average age at which British men retired fell from around 68 to around 62. The equivalent ages for women were 66 and 61.…

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