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Mandatory retirement legislation: a constraint on transitions to retirement?

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Issues associated with retirement in general, and phased transitions into retirement in particular, are taking on increased importance for a variety of reasons. Outlines those reasons, paying particular attention to the practice of mandatory retirement. Presents age dependency ratios for the OECD to highlight the importance of these issues in the context of an ageing and longer-lived workforce relative to a smaller working age population. Then discusses the prevalence of mandatory retirement in Canada and the USA, and presents empirical evidence from Canada on variables associated with retiring because of mandatory retirement. The Canadian case is of particular interest, because mandatory retirement in Canada has generally not been banned, which is in marked contrast with the situation in the USA, where it has been banned as constituting age discrimination. The public and legal debate over the issue of mandatory retirement has also been extensive in Canada, and this debate may provide information for other countries dealing with the issue. Ends with an assessment of the extent to which mandatory retirement exerts a constraining influence on transitions into retirement. The essential argument is that its constraining impact is not as simple as it may initially appear. To the extent that mandatory retirement is an intricate part of the compensation and human resource function of firms, banning it can have important implications for those functions and, in turn, for transitions into retirement. The complexities of these issues and dramatically increasing old-age dependency ratios will ensure that this is an area of growing importance for public policy and human resource management.

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