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Expanding Job Opportunities for Senior Citizens

The Challenge

Bureau of European Policy Advisers (BEPA) Session

The key socioeconomic trend in many parts of the world—including China, Europe and the United States—is an ageing society. This trend is driven in part by lower fertility but mainly by higher longevity. This means that growing old age dependency—the ratio of older retired people to younger working people—will not disappear with the passing of the baby boom generation: indeed, it will keep increasing.

This poses three big challenges: first, a possible slowdown in economic growth (associated with the shift from "demographic dividends" to "demographic liabilities"); second, budgetary pressures on pension and social systems; and third, conflicts over the intergenerational distribution of wealth (including conflicting conceptions of justice).

Various policy responses to these challenges have been proposed: raising the effective retirement age; promoting greater fertility and immigration; encouraging more female labor force participation; reducing unemployment; boosting productivity; and increasing working hours per employee. Of these, only the first can be expected to have a substantial effect that is deliverable in the short run and persistent over the long run.

But raising the effective retirement age is difficult, requiring an increase in both the demand for and supply of senior work. On the supply side, the retirement decisions of seniors depend in part on the incentives created through pension regulation and financial rules, as well as employment and social policies. These incentives are reasonably well understood.

Arguably, the most challenging policy issue is on the demand side: how can employers be induced to retain their senior workforces longer and to hire more seniors? And what changes in economic, political and social conditions are required for businesses to recognize that the employment of seniors is in their own interests?

How can perceptions and expectations of career paths be altered to allow for more progressive transitions towards retirement? Should there be more lifelong learning and should it be provided by businesses themselves or by the community? Would adapting employment protection for seniors create unintended negative consequences? And should career progressions, along with the related wage progressions, be allowed to peak and then decrease past a certain age, in line with productivity over the lifecycle?

    Solutions

    Solution

    Promote lifelong learning and age-appropriate...

     
    Promote lifelong learning and age-appropriate career management as part of firms' corporate culture to improve the employability of older workers.

    Promote lifelong learning and age-appropriate career management as part of firms' corporate culture to improve the employability of older workers.

    Business
    Solution

    Governments and business should promote...

     
    Governments and business should promote the redesign workplaces and work schedules individually to fit senior workers' skills and abilities.

    Governments and business should promote the redesign workplaces and work schedules individually to fit senior workers' skills and abilities.

    Polity, Business
    Solution

    Allow wages to adjust to...

     
    Allow wages to adjust to lifecycle productivity and refrain from restrictive employment protection legislation that prevents such adjustment.

    Allow wages to adjust to lifecycle productivity and refrain from restrictive employment protection legislation that prevents such adjustment.

    Polity, Business
    Solution

    To facilitate partial retirement and...

     
    To facilitate partial retirement and downshifting, introduce more flexible working conditions, such as flexible rostering patterns, work schedules and part-time work, as well as flexible retirement sc ...

    To facilitate partial retirement and downshifting, introduce more flexible working conditions, such as flexible rostering patterns, work schedules and part-time work, as well as flexible retirement schemes, including pensions based on lifetime income or contributions and flexible drawing-down of entitlements.

    Polity, Business
    Solution

    Establish a national or international...

     
    Establish a national or international clearinghouse for best practices in retaining older workers.

    Establish a national or international clearinghouse for best practices in retaining older workers.

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society
    Solution

    Fight stigma and discrimination and...

     
    Fight stigma and discrimination and correct popular misconceptions about the impact of age on employability and the impact of working longer on the labor market.

    Fight stigma and discrimination and correct popular misconceptions about the impact of age on employability and the impact of working longer on the labor market.

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society

    Proposals

    Proposal

    Four Proposals for a World Where the Workforce is Ever Older

     
    Author, Shock of Gray: The Aging of the World’s Population and How It Pits Young Against Old, Child Against Parent, Worker Against Boss, Company Against Rival, and Nation Against Nation and CHINA, I ...

    Author, Shock of Gray: The Aging of the World’s Population and How It Pits Young Against Old, Child Against Parent, Worker Against Boss, Company Against Rival, and Nation Against Nation and CHINA, INC. Writer:  New York Times Magazine, USA Today The world’s population is growing older for two well-understood reasons:  Family sizes are shrinking and people are living longer.  Both trends are new to human existence. The workforce challenges wrought by an aging population arise from both causes.  Approaches to the challenges of an older society with an older workforce must make sense in a world where traditional family supports

    Polity, Business, Civil Society
    Proposal

    Expanding Job Opportunities for Senior Citizens

     
    1. Improve employability of older workers by implementing lifelong learning and redesigning workplaces and work schedules. In order to keep aging workers productive and, hence, attractive for firms to ...

    1. Improve employability of older workers by implementing lifelong learning and redesigning workplaces and work schedules. In order to keep aging workers productive and, hence, attractive for firms to hire or retain, it is necessary to develop a corporate culture that promotes and protects the productivity of the senior worker. Such a culture consists of several dimensions, including supporting worker’s health, keeping human capital up to date, and maintaining motivation of the worker. Increasing skills and competence of older workers calls for life-long learning, including learning toward the end of the career, in order to enable greater career mobility

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society

    Open Library

    Publication

    Too old to work, too young to retire?

    Publication

    Too old to work, too young to retire?

    Publication