For over a century age 65 was considered the ‘normal’ state retirement age. It is only recently that governments around the world have dared to even contemplate an increase. But why 65 and why the pressing need to change?

Bismark gave the world the first State Pension in the 1880s and he selected 65 as the qualifying age. What is less well known is that life expectancy in Germany at the time was 48. Bismark never expected to pay out, instead he saw it as a benevolent way of raising tax.

130 years later and this ingenious tax raising idea has become a bottomless pit from which all governments are rushing to escape. If only a simple rider had been added – that State Pension age would increase with increasing life expectancy – there would be no pit, but the UK pension age would have just increased to 97!