This chapter discusses how the unclear marginal status of the retirement group, and the lack of clear expectations, recognition, and rewards that should attend it in the way that they do other groups, makes the retired a highly problematic social category. It explains the objective of the state pension and identifies the problems posed by the success of the economy and increases in incomes for the said welfare benefit for the retired. It argues that increased longevity and the ability of increasing numbers to retire earlier have created a substantial and very uncertain ‘third age’. It notes that retirement for most demands a complex, shifting array of choices about identity and life management which did not exist when retirement was seen as no more than an implicitly limited period of well-earned rest.
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