ST Aug 11, 2007The journalist has got her thinking hat on backwards. The truth can be stated much more simply. It doesn't really matter what the "official" retirement age is. You will go on working as long as you (a) need the money, and (b) are still able to keep working.
Retire? Not so soon, say many
They need to carry on working because of worries
over insufficient savings
By Lydia Lim
SINGAPOREANS are in no hurry to retire and most want to work beyond the official retirement age of 62, some even into their 70s.
It's a case of 'CPF no enough' for many of these workers.
Seven in 10 polled last month in a Straits Times Insight survey on CPF said they do not think their savings in the national pension fund will see them through old age.
Six in 10 of them said the same of their Medisave funds for hospital bills and specified treatments.
The survey of 636 Singapore residents aged 30 and above found that apart from CPF, 77 per cent expect to be able to draw from other sources of retirement income, mainly savings, investments and insurance.
But a significant minority of 23 per cent had nothing else set aside.
One cause for concern is that only one in two Singaporeans has done any financial planning for retirement.
Even fewer, three in 10, have done their sums on how much they need to squirrel away.
What may mitigate against any resulting savings shortfall is their willingness to work beyond the retirement age of 62. Some two-thirds said they plan to do so.
Of these, one-third are willing to work up to age 65, another third up to age 70 and the remaining third into their 70s.
Unless you regard suicide as an alternative, you don't have a choice. What were you thinking - that Singapore is a welfare state?
Blue-collar and lower-income workers are the most likely to want to work longer.The only practical significance of the "official" retirement age is that it is also the age when you can start utilising (in tiny little monthly instalments) your CPF minimum sum. For an explanation of how this works, refer to my old post here.
Eight in 10 plan to do so, against six in 10 among professionals, managers, executives and business types, or those drawing more than $3,000 a month.
Older Singaporeans are also more likely to want to work past the retirement age than those in their 30s.
The vast majority - 83 per cent - are however against a recent suggestion by ministers to raise the age when they can draw down their CPF minimum sum. It is currently 62.
The survey findings also revealed a good amount of ignorance of the workings of the CPF system. Seven in 10 do not know how much they had in their CPF accounts.I believe that in the long run, what will catch many people off-guard is how long they end up living. Life expectancies (except in very poor countries) have steadily been rising over many decades and the curves don't seem to show any sign of topping off.
And one in two does not know the rate of return on CPF savings.
Of the half who do, most - 63 per cent - are unhappy with the interest rate, which
stands at 2.5 per cent for Ordinary Account savings and 4 per cent for Special and Medisave Account savings.
The top two changes CPF members would like to see are more flexibility in the use of their money, and a higher interest rate on their savings.
Financial experts and Members of Parliament said it is good that Singaporeans feel no false sense of security over their retirement finances.
Manpower Minister Ng Eng Hen emphasised in an e-mail interview that a critical factor in determining what is enough for retirement is how long people work in relation to how long they can expect to live. Average life expectancy has risen from 61 years when CPF was introduced in 1955, to 80 today.
In 1900, life expectancy at birth in the United States was only 47 years. By year 2000, it had climbed to 77 years (an increase of 30 years). In 1950, life expectancy in China was 35 years. By 2000, it had risen to 71 years.
If you google around to check out what the scientists and doctors have to say about new medical discoveries and research and their implications for how long people are going to live, well, you'd probably be quite startled. Anti-aging medicine has become an industry in itself.
The question is - how long can you afford it? Not the medicine. I mean - life itself. Living 10, 20 years longer than you expected means that you need money to support yourself for an additional 10, 20 years. That's a pretty long time.