Unintended Consequences

Contraception is a wonderful thing. First of all it annoys the Pope which is never bad. But more importantly it has liberated sex from the shadow of unwanted children. This means happier,more frequent  and better sex lives all round. Control over birth rates, and for women the all important control over their bodies. So far so good.

It means  women can start to have it all. Education, career and children  But to really fit that all in ,means having children later and later. Today the average for starting a UK family is thirty. That means crudely half start when they are over thirty. 28000 start when they are over forty.

This is when the unintended consequence  kicks in. Half all children now go to university, many have to do badly paid work or internships very early in there careers. This means they are dependent on their families until they are in their early twenties. So someone having a child at forty will be supporting that child until they are more or less 65.

The trouble is for many their career runs out in their early sixties. It did for me. The phone stops ringing,the old networks are suddenly useless, younger more energetic competition will do the work for less, you are dated, your ideas no longer have traction. It happens,not least in economic down turns. With my children grown up,property  down sizing, inheritance, having bought private pensions and Vivien still working I could retire aged 62.

I know several others who having the choice did the same. I know several more whose careers continue to flourish. But also know some whose careers are effectively over but because of the age of their children have to soldier on. Where once they were in demand now they fight for scraps. As we get older  both our physical and emotional skins get thinner. When we were thirty rejection was their problem, when we are sixty rejection punctures still further the weakening carapace.

We are being told and we know its true that because we live longer we must work longer. But if you are an employer  do you hire an ambitious 26 year old who will work 70 hours a week or a 60 year old who  has a life . Its a no brainer. Thats fine, as you get older you down size your career, you earn less and less which doesn’t matter if the main expenditures in your life  are over. But that’s not true if you had children late.

So my dear friends , who have stayed on the field while I and others took early baths,I feel your  pain. It cannot be  much consolation.

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