©Paul Barton, Corbis

Rigid retirement policies are prompting scientists to flee Europe at the height of their professional lives to start second careers in the United States. Many of these researchers are still conducting experiments and are in no mood to slow down. But because nearly all European universities are government run, professors are left little choice when they reach mandatory retirement age, which in most countries is 65 years or even younger.

Some scientists leaving for the United States are well known internationally, and US institutions extend them generous offers. Others may not have big-name recognition beyond their fields, but are still dedicated to their work and eager tocontinue to contribute in some way. They often bring their European pension plans and are happy to work for minimalcompensation in the United States.

From countries such as Germany, Switzerland, France, Netherlands, and Britain, scientists repeatedly stress that obligatory retirement is...

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