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Should we be able to ‘self-identify’ as any age we want?

A man has filed a lawsuit to make his official birthdate twenty years younger.

A Dutchman is suing for the right to push his recorded birthdate back twenty years.

What it means: According to his birth certificate, his government and humankind’s concept of time, Emile Ratelband is 69. But Emile, comparing his plight to transgender people, thinks he is trapped in the wrong body. After doctors apparently agreed that he has the body of a 45-year old, he filed a lawsuit to allow him to change his official birthday from 1949 to 1969, making him twenty 20 years younger overnight.

Let’s say the Dutch government agree that individuals have the right to self-identify as an age they choose. What could that change about the economy? Emile says age discrimination stops him from getting job opportunities, something that a majority of UK workers also say holds them back in the workplace. Workplace discrimination is “economically inefficient” (a waste of our collective time, money and other resources) because it can prevent tasks being allocated to the most productive worker, aka the one who is going to boss it best and create the most moolah / genius ideas / trainers / whatever.

Emile also says he’d give up his state pension (which you have to be 65.75 years old to collect in the Netherlands). So could age self-identification be a solution for governments all over the world who are worried about how unaffordable pensions are becoming? (They cost the UK government £111 billion a year, 14 percent of all government spending). Eh, probably not. After all, what if younger people started changing their age to enjoy early retirement? We can think of a few people who would think jacking in the 9 to 5 and getting a campervan on the government’s dime would be worth buying a few extra candles for their birthday cake.

Read our explainer on identity and economic chances.

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Reader Comments

  • RW

    Your right to a degree. You mentioned “the wandering Jew”.

    I elaborate that the Jewish people, historically have tended to migrate almost exclusively to locations that are economically and culturally vibrant already. I would speculate that Jews have thrived in these places and have often improved the bounds of their economies and knowledge base.

    You can also ask; how many massive entertainment conglomerates, Nobel winners or billionaires has Isreal developed? If Jews are so capable, why isn’t Tel Aviv the Rome of our time?

    Jews are successful because they value education, maintain a strong social cohesive, they actively monitor and have a good sense for Zeitgeist wherever they are and they carefully choose the places they settle and congregate themselves heavily in these choice locations.

    But most importantly (haulocaust increased the importance of this aspect), they actually designed their culture for success. They not only attend Harvard, they use what they learned to better the group as a whole. With as much, they studied intricate networking systems, adapted to it and in many cases improved upon them. (See how Japan acquired Aegis warships and made them better).

    Of course there is nothing wrong with any of this. It’s when you elaborately gain disproportionate power in any society where you would stand out, you must take care when attempting to make a society better (Civil Rights movement) and rewriting that society all together (mass immigration). Ask blacks in China, Mexico, Philippines or India how much opportunity they have? Go to businesses owned by their American diaspora and see how many blacks they hire. Go to Silicon Valley and see how many East or South Asian tech workers wish they could work with more black people. California might work as a state, but as a nation, I think your rolling the nuclear dice here. I hope we can succeed as a tolerant pluralistic superpower but at this stage in human societal development, it’s a pipe dream.

    And if Jews really are the icon for success, they would see that fundamental human successes happen over generations. Just look at the rest of the planet? Are we ready?