[ilds] Retirement Age during the British Raj

Denise Tart & David Green dtart at bigpond.net.au
Thu Oct 22 13:37:25 PDT 2015


> A recent documentary on the British East India Company made the point a few times that climatic factors, malaria and massive alcohol consumption, especially spirits like gin and rum took their toll on the Brits in India and elsewhere in the tropics. The company actually encourage alcohol consumption as it was thought to prevent malaria. The Brits are massive piss heads anyway,  So yes, I would say by 55 many were in poor shape. In this context Durrell's bibulous character Gideon comes to mind. William Apt also makes the valid point that people just didn't live that long back then. Sixty was considered old in 1900. In Australia the retirement age is 65. This age was determined early last century because many did not make it that far and the government would not have to pay them. Now they want to make it 70. 


David (55 and semi retired)


Sent from my iPad

> On 23 Oct 2015, at 6:15 am, William Apt <billyapt at gmail.com> wrote:
> 
> 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> wrote:
>> 
>> 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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