Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Mandatory Retirement and Age Discrimination

Jack [who is mostly retired] sent me this piece from the National Post, highlighting the perils of setting an arbitrary age for mandatory retirement.

A California jury awarded US$20-million to an 85-year-old surgeon after the prison where he worked forced him to retire.

An expert witness testified Dr. Robert Johnson was fit enough to work until he is 96.

... In August, 2001, he was called to a meeting with two colleagues who tried to force him to retire. They urged him to quit before they reported him to the state medical board and had his licence revoked.

... But Dr. Johnson had no plans to retire. Indeed, he loved his work and hoped to continue as long as possible.

His supervisors later complained to the Medical Board of California, alleging his work was suffering because of "organic brain syndrome."

The board eventually dismissed the case, but by then Dr. Johnson had retired and launched a lawsuit against the California Department of Corrections. His complaint describes his situation as "the epitome of age discrimination."

I don't care what his neurological expert witness might say; I would be hesitant about allowing an 85-year-old surgeon to operate on me. I would be especially hesitant if the assurance of his abilities were provided by some expert arrogant enough to project an 85-year-old's mental capacity at age 96.

On a related topic, now that it appears Ontario will ban mandatory retirement at age 65, I have announced that I intend to teach here until I am 90. When I informed the UWO president (also an economist) of my intentions, he sort of half-smiled and half-chuckled somewhat nervously. He then informed me that most people don't work very many additional years beyond age 65, even when given a chance. [hint, hint??]

If he is correct, then Dr. Robert Johnson is quite an anomoly.

Meanwhile, Jack is waiting for his big cash pay-off....
Who Links Here