The End of RetirementThe Walrus, December 2023
The article focuses on Canada, but is equally valid across the developed world, and soon much of the developing world. People reaching their sixties are now in a dramatically different situation than that of their parents: they can’t assume that work has come to an end. Stagnating revenues (or pensions), higher life expectancy, and rising healthcare costs are all leading to the postponement of retirement. The reason is obvious: if you retire at 64 in a rich country and if you are a woman, you could have fifty more years ahead of you to save for. We need to start talking about “phased retirement” (retirement as an adaptive/gradual transition rather than an on/off switch): “a transition from working mostly full time to not working mostly full time.” The benefits to workers who want to keep contributing/earning, and to employers who benefit from their experience and work ethic, would be profound.   

A Hairy Truth About Your Sense of TouchThe New York Times, November 8, 2023 
When someone brushes a hand across your skin, it’s like a breeze blowing through a forest of countless small hairs. Nerves that surround your hair follicles detect that contact, and very far away in your brain, other cells fire. Some of the neurons responding to light touch might make you shiver and give you goose bumps; others might tell you to move away, or move closer. Scientists who study the sense of touch have just explored which cells bear these messages, and they have made an intriguing discovery: follicle cells triggered by hair movements release the neurotransmitters histamine and serotonin, chemical messengers linked to biological phenomena as varied as inflammation, muscle contraction and mood changes. The new research lays the groundwork for tracing how gentle touch makes us feel the way it does.  

What Happens When the Super Rich Are This Selfish? It Isn’t PrettyThe New York Times, November 19, 2023
Throughout much of the Western world’s history, the wealthiest have always attempted to support their societies in times of crises like plagues, famines or wars, either by generosity or interest. Today, this academic argues, this symbiotic relationship no longer exists, as the rich are opposing reforms aimed at tapping their resources to fund mitigation policies of all kinds. This is unusual and concerning. In the past, when the wealthiest were perceived as insensitive to the plight of the masses, society tended to become unstable, leading to riots, open revolts, and anti-rich violence.   

World Health Organization Makes Loneliness a Global Health Priority with New Commission on Social ConnectionCNN, November 15, 2023 
For the next three years, the WHO commission will focus on ways to address the “pressing health threat” of a global epidemic of loneliness, reviewing the latest science and designing tangible strategies to help people deepen their social connections. It’s co-chaired by African Union Youth Envoy Chido Mpemba and US Surgeon General Dr.Vivek Murthy, who has written and spoken extensively about the risks of social isolation and has made the issue one of his top concerns while in office.  

The Case for Inviting Everyone to EverythingVox, November 12, 2023
The case is incontrovertible: in a time when loneliness is more pervasive than ever, why not extend an invitation to people you don’t know well or people you see less? Research suggests that a reluctance to reach out and connect is unwise because we underestimate others’ interest in connecting, and the power of new connections. Tons of studies also prove that belonging to multiple groups is strongly associated with health and happiness. It also leads to higher self-esteem and lower rates of depression.
 

 A Striking Stat:  

A quarter of adults worldwide—more than a billion people—feel very or fairly lonely; another 27% feel a little lonely.  

Source: Meta-Gallup survey of 140 countries, October 2023 

Read more findings. 

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