Seniors who live to work a minority

While there can be little dispute that the vast majority "work to live", it is open to argument how many senior citizens really feel inclined to "live to work" ("Work to live, live to work"; July 18).

The clear evidence is that the primary factor driving people to work is the prospect of earning money and not any great love for working itself. The vast majority slog to accumulate a nest egg that will, hopefully, tide them over in their sunset years.

A rough yardstick in much earlier times was that working life started at around age 18, with retirement coming at age 55. This was what was envisaged under Singapore's own Central Provident Fund scheme during those early years.

The need for higher educational qualifications gave rise to a higher parameter - to age 20, with 40 years of working life, pushing retirement to age 60.

That concept is now thoroughly outdated.

The virtues or touted benefits of working at an advanced age appear to be overemphasised.

While the dedication of the seniors, including several septuagenarians, featured is praiseworthy, I fear they represent only a tiny minority.

The finding by the Singapore Human Resources Institute was that Singapore workers are "under happy" in their workplace ("An 'under happy' lot"; Nov 23, 2014).

It is unlikely that senior citizens who are still working would be any happier.

It would be of public interest to explore the topic further and interview a wider swathe of the elderly to ascertain whether they are as euphoric in welcoming the necessity - and not just the opportunity - to be "gainfully employed".

Diminished physical vigour and stamina play a significant part in the lives of the elderly, and this should be taken into account for a topic that involves working seniors.

Narayana Narayana

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2015, with the headline 'Seniors who live to work a minority'. Print Edition | Subscribe