The stars of the european banner on a blue Background
© Julien Eichinger -

Essay: The EU and age discrimination: Abolish mandatory retirement!

Before the European Parliament elections, the Twelve Stars Initiative and we publish a collection of essays entitled "Twelve Stars: Philosophers chart a new course for Europe". In the coming weeks, we will release four of the essays here in advance. In the first one, Kasper Lippert Rasmussen argues that a mandatory retirement age is a form of discrimination that will affect many EU citizens.

For the European elections at the end of May, most commentators expect a wave of populism from right and left. It is widely believed that the whole European Union will pour itself into the Brussels and Strasbourg Parliament like a political tsunami.

May be, wait and see. We at the program "Europe's future" at the Bertelsmann Stiftung do not simply want to sit still and stare at the snake like a rabbit. Together with the Twelve Stars Initiative we have asked clever minds all over Europe: Please, write down what idea could make enlighten the gloomy conditions of the EU! Freethinkers ahead for a better Europe, that was the motto.

In parallel, our Europe-wide survey, before the elections, explores the mood of European citizens - you can follow the analysis on the website just mentioned.

Today, you find here an essay by Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen. He reflects on a specific and quite worrying aspect of the future of the EU and warns: "Mandatory retirement age will produce even greater economic costs. A mandatory retirement age in an aging population means that a growing proportion of the EU's citizens will stop being part of the workforce and will instead rely on transfers from those citizens who remain part of it. The European statistics agency Eurostat estimates that the ratio of over-65-year-olds to 15- to 64-year-olds will increase from 31 percent in 2018 to 50 percent in 2050."

Enjoy further reading by downloading Kasper's essay here.

For background information on how the proposal fits with the EU’s political agenda and procedures, see

Publication: Twelve Stars

Twelve Stars presents 24 though-provoking essays by leading European philosophers on the policy choices that the European Union now faces. Proposals ...

Further reading

  • Bidadanure, Juliana. "Making sense of age-group injustice: A time for relational equality?" Politics, Philosophy & Economics 15 (3): 234–260, 2016

  • Lippert-Rasmussen, Kasper. "Is it unjust that old people suffer from worse health than young people? Distributive and relational egalitarian views." Forthcoming

  • Lippert-Rasmussen, Kasper. Relational Egalitarianism: Living as Equals. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018

  • Lippert-Rasmussen, Kasper. Born Free and Equal? A Philosophical Inquiry into the Nature of Discrimination. Oxford: Oxford University Press,  2013

  • McKerlie, Dennis. Justice Between the Young and the Old. Oxford: Oxford University  Press, 2012