Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Disrespecting People Who Work with their Hands as Well as Their Heads

Sometimes a newspaper article acquires such bogosity that it must enter a science blog. This op-ed column, aimed at softening up voters for an older retirement age, suggests putting off retirement to "work at the office." The majority of Americans work in executive, professional, sales, technical and administrative jobs. But a substantial minority - and those who make and build stuff rather than sell it - have jobs with serious physical demands. People who pound steel on the assembly line 10 hours a day and didn't have time or energy to pump iron or train for the marathon.

There's a lot of population literature suggesting musculoskeletal problems for older people with "physically demanding" jobs, but it's mostly questionaire job data which doesn't distinguish seriously repetitive or heavy work. It's time to compile that literature before we condemn people to another 10 years doing more than the body can stand.


Op-Ed Columnist
The Old and the Rested

Published: June 14, 2005

Men in their 70's raced on bikes for 40 kilometers in this month's National Senior Games in Pittsburgh. A 68-year-old woman threw the discus 85 feet, and a 69-year-old man hurled the javelin nearly half the length of a football field.

Is it possible that people this age are still physically capable of putting in a full day's work at the office?

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