Working longer is an essential ingredient of the adaptation of our societies to the challenges posed by increased longevity. Working longer as a response to living longer trends is both feasible and optimal. This is because to a large extent the increase in longevity has also implied a postponement, over the life cycle, of many health impediments. Moreover, preventing those defects over the life cycle is potentially much more fruitful than reacting to them through early retirement policies or the provision of disability allowances.
Using the Italian case as a learning example, this short note will discuss the issues raised by the goal of working life prolongment. Firstly, it will be argued that such a goal is of paramount relevance vis-à-vis the increase in life expectancy as a way-out from the apparent trade-off between financial sustainability and social adequacy of pensions systems. The difficulties of fulfilling such a goal, taking account of the interactions between demand and supply factors and of the inheritance of past rules and habits, will then be discussed with reference to the Italian case.