Friday, August 4, 2017

A retired pilot un-retires in Japan

NAGASAKI, Japan — Shigekazu Miyazaki is spending what should have been his retirement 25,000 feet in the air. 
Mr. Miyazaki, a pilot with nearly four decades’ experience at All Nippon Airways, Japan’s largest airline, left the carrier last year at its mandatory retirement age of 65. But rather than take up golf or fishing, Mr. Miyazaki since April has been piloting 39-seat propeller planes for Oriental Air Bridge, a tiny airline that connects the southwestern city of Nagasaki to a group of remote islands. 
“I never would have thought I’d still be flying at 65,” Mr. Miyazaki, who is trim and has a deep voice and a full head of gray hair, said before a recent flight. “But I’m still healthy, and I love to fly, so why not do it as long as I can?” 
A man in his seventh decade extending his commercial flying career still qualifies as a novelty in Japan — but maybe not for long. 
...Oriental Air Bridge had never hired a pilot Mr. Miyazaki’s age before, but, with skilled pilots in short supply nationwide, it has been expanding its recruiting.... Oriental Air Bridge pays him only about a third of his peak salary, but he says he does not mind.
This seems to me to be pretty textbook labor economics: if the labor pool is small and demand is high, employers start changing their hiring standards to select those workers they are willing to take on. In this particular case, it appears that Mr. Miyazaki is willing to take a pretty significant pay cut to keep flying (although I suspect that pilot pay has something to do with the size of the plane the pilot flies as well...)

Something tells me, though, that this sort of situation is relatively rare in chemistry, and the number of bench-level scientists who have been recruited back into the lab after their retirement is quite low. I know the story is different in academia, but I guess I am willing to be proven wrong in the comments. Readers, know of any cases where long-time bench-level scientists have been tempted back into the lab?  


  1. There's demand for consultants in formulation - coatings, adhesives, sealants, cosmetics, etc. In a lot of cases, a company that once had a real R&D lab is now just cranking out products, and there's no one left who knows how to troubleshoot when something goes wrong.

  2. CJ: In a strange way the policy you speak of (less salary for the love of chemistry) is already in place! The less salary was forced upon us especially after the big pharma layoff. None of us like it but there is little or no choice. The situation was so acute that people were willing to take up any job (chemist related) for less salary, or else, someone will take it. Large labor pool and no significant demand!

  3. It's possible that their economy is part of the reason - if retirees aren't making enough or are expecting their retirements to run out, then they might be willing to take a pay cut to supplement their retirement in the short term.

    There are lots of retirees I've seen from my work, and unless they were getting paid at a similar or not much different rate than they were when they were working (or were offered good health benefits and a somewhat lower wage), I don't they would go back to work. Maybe pilots are different, though. Given the labor market (lots of supply and incentives for increasing supply), this probably isn't likely for chemists unless they have some piece of knowledge or experience that is rare and necessary (and that companies know is rare and necessary).

  4. AbbVie has a partnership with the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), and several retired employees volunteer their time to do research for the project.