[ilds] Retirement Age during the British Raj

William Apt billyapt at gmail.com
Thu Oct 22 12:15:09 PDT 2015

In the States the typical retirement age used to be 55 not that long ago,
as late as the 1960s or 70s. Its likely a simple answer: people didn't used
to live as long. And because people also didn't used to be as health
conscious and exercise regularly, they aged or degenerated faster.

On Thu, Oct 22, 2015 at 1:23 PM, Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>

> Does anyone have an opinion why the Brits made fifty-five the retirement
> age for their civil servants in India during the nineteenth century?  In *Orientalism
> *(1978), Edward W. Said claims they did this so that, “no Oriental was
> ever allowed see a Westerner as he aged and degenerated” (p. 42).  Said
> cites as a source V. G. Kiernan, *The Lords of Human Kind:  Black Man,
> Yellow Man, and White Man in the Age of Empire* (1969).  In a website,
> Sinn Fein makes the same claim in the same language.
> My sense, however, based on my experiences in Singapore (which followed
> the Brit tradition of retirement at fifty-five), was that Brits (on the
> average) did not fare well in tropical climates and had high mortality
> rates due to heat, disease, and too much gin.  So, they retired at
> fifty-five because they didn’t have many years left.  By fifty-five, they
> were on their “last legs” and already “degenerate” in Said’s sense.
> Compare Dane Kennedy’s *The Magic Mountains:  Hill Stations of the
> British Raj *(Berkeley, U of California P, 1996).  Kennedy writes, “That
> British sojourners had ample reason to fear for their lives is borne out by
> mortality statistics; the cost of entry into these new and rich disease
> environments was high” (p. 19).  I lean towards Kennedy’s statement as an
> explanation.  Does Durrell discuss this issue anywhere?
> There must be a definitive and authoritative answer to this question
> somewhere in the record.
> Bruce
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