Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
The future for older workers

The future for older workers: New perspectives

Wendy Loretto
Sarah Vickerstaff
Phil White
Copyright Date: 2007
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The future for older workers
    Book Description:

    Across the world governments in mature industrial and post-industrial economies are concerned about the ageing population. Dealing directly and exclusively with the issue of older workers, this book brings together up-to-the-minute research findings by many of the leading researchers and writers in the field. The duration and quality of working lives and the timing and circustances of retirement are of growing concern, especially in those cases where employers' demands and imperatives clash with employees' wishes. The contributions in this volume focus upon various measures taken by the state and employers to foster the employment of older workers in Britain, mainland Europe, the US and Japan. The authors address key issues that will influence public policy, exploring what workers over 50 want, the impact of the ageing workforce on employer policies and the implications for governments in promoting and supporting extended working lives. The book is aimed at academics, students, policy makers and other professionals (such as training managers, HR professionals and trade unionists) interested in contemporary issues within social policy, the sociology of ageing, and human resource and diversity management. It wil also be of interest to older workers themselves.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-249-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iii)
  3. List of tables and figures
    (pp. iv-v)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. vi-vii)
    Patrick Grattan

    The contributors to this publication represent a cross-section of the leading researchers, thinkers and writers about the implications of changing demographics on the world of work. Collectively they have had a substantial influence on public policy and on the actions of employers, employees and public agencies. It is welcome to see their expertise brought together in this book.

    The subtitle of this book is ‘New perspectives’ on the future of older workers. This is appropriate because its appearance coincides with a turning point. Legislation against age-based employment and training practices came into force in 2006. For a decade it had...

  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. viii-viii)
  6. List of abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  7. Glossary of UK-based institutions and programmes
    (pp. xi-xv)
  8. Notes on contributors
    (pp. xvi-xviii)
  9. ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)
    Wendy Loretto, Sarah Vickerstaff and Phil White

    The future for older workers has recently become an issue of major concern to individuals, employers and governments. For many people confronted with diminishing pension savings or entitlements and extensions to state pension ages, the prospects for an early and smooth transition to retirement appear to be diminishing. For employers facing a more regulated labour market with the advent of age discrimination legislation and in the context of changing demographics and potential skills shortages, there is an increasing need to rethink their management of the older workforce. For governments, concerns about the tendency for people to retire earlier and live...

  10. TWO Older workers in the labour market: the demographic context
    (pp. 7-26)
    Mike Danson

    Critical to the determination of the supply of labour to an economy is the number of people who are fit and able to work. In determining this ‘working population’, there is a host of factors to be considered, including most fundamentally the age structure and health of people in the economy. With the rise in joblessness of those of ‘working age’, and especially among those over 50, has come an interest in matters of ‘employability’ and the perceived reasons for higher rates of economic inactivity among older workers. This chapter addresses the demographic aspects behind these employability debates, focusing initially...

  11. THREE The American experience of age discrimination legislation
    (pp. 27-42)
    John Macnicol

    In 2006, the United Kingdom finally passed legislation against age discrimination in employment. The essentials can be summarised quickly: both direct and indirect discrimination are outlawed; improved employment protection has been granted to older workers; and the opportunity to work past the age of 65 is now negotiable with employers. Over the coming years, numerous legal decisions will test the legislation’s defences, and other political pressures will be brought to bear which may abolish mandatory retirement for all but a few occupations.

    Ostensibly, the new Age Regulations are a direct response to the European Union Employment Directive on Equal Treatment...

  12. FOUR The employment of older people: can we learn from Japan?
    (pp. 43-64)
    Bernard Casey

    Japan is frequently remarked upon for its very high level of labour force participation among older workers and particularly older men. In the year 2000, nearly 95% of men aged 55-59, nearly three quarters of those aged 60-64 and a third of those aged over 65 were still economically active. Almost all of the economically active were working rather than being unemployed: the relevant employment rates were 90%, 63% and 33%, respectively.¹ A brief comparison with other countries is given in Figure 4.1.

    The high employment rates exist alongside a relatively low mandatory retirement age operated in many sectors of...

  13. FIVE Moving older people into jobs: Incapacity Benefit, Labour’s reforms and the job shortfall in the UK regions
    (pp. 65-88)
    Christina Beatty and Steve Fothergill

    More than any of its predecessors, the current Labour government in the UK is committed to raising employment among older workers. Through advice and active support, backed up in some cases by financial incentives, the aim is to increase the number of over-50s in work and reduce dependency on welfare benefits. Since Labour was elected in 1997, the schemes targeted at older workers have proliferated, and further major reform is still planned.

    This chapter¹ casts a critical eye over these initiatives. Its central thesis is that although the new initiatives have undoubtedly proved helpful to many individuals, they fail to...

  14. SIX Women’s knowledge of, and attitudes to, pensions
    (pp. 89-102)
    Sue Ward

    There is a school of thought that claims that women do not know much about pensions, do not understand them, and therefore do not join schemes or pay large sums out of their wages into personal pensions. If women understood pensions rather better, this argument goes, everything would be fine. This view was epitomised in the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) 2002 Pensions Green Paper, which had a concluding section on women and pensions, tacked on rather as an afterthought. It went through a reasonably sound analysis of women’s pension position, and its roots in their employment position and...

  15. SEVEN Sustaining working lives: the challenge of retention
    (pp. 103-120)
    Donald Hirsch

    A long-term rise in early exit from working life might be interpreted in one of three ways. One is that people are taking a positive choice to increase their lifetime leisure. A second is that they face distorted financial incentives to retire or claim invalidity benefits rather than carry on working, and do not have to face the true economic cost of a decision to leave work. A third is that people lack sufficient opportunity and capacity to carry on working, regardless of their preferences and the economic consequences.

    Up until about 10 years ago, early retirement was seen largely...

  16. EIGHT Healthy work for older workers: work design and management factors
    (pp. 121-138)
    Amanda Griffiths

    Much of the recent concern in Britain in relation to the reducing ratio of employed to retired people has centred on national-level policy and economic issues such as retirement, state pension age and the burden on welfare and healthcare systems. For some time now, it has been suggested that one of the more straightforward, and least unpopular, ways of reducing the associated fiscal deficits would be to encourage people to stay in the labour force for longer than has been typical in recent decades (Griffiths, 1997; Miles, 1997). Sustaining the productivity of retained older workers may play a role in...

  17. NINE Flexible work and older workers
    (pp. 139-160)
    Wendy Loretto, Sarah Vickerstaff and Phil White

    In the context of the UK government’s aim to extend working lives and encourage people to retire later, the availability of flexible working arrangements, such as part-time work, temporary work or self-employment, has been flagged as important (PIU, 2000; DWP, 2002a, p 98; Phillipson and Smith, 2005, pp 49-53; see also Chapter Seven of this volume).¹ The UK government has taken various steps to prolong working lives, including the establishment of an Extending Working Life group within the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP); regulations to combat age discrimination in the workplace, with effect from October 2006; the raising of...

  18. TEN The employability of older workers: what works?
    (pp. 161-184)
    Tony Maltby

    The everyday, localised experiences and perceptions of older people in accessing paid work, and their retention and progression in employment, are under-researched and under-documented. More often studies consider the implementation of policy at the national level and at the level of the firm, that is, at a macro level of analysis. This chapter¹ provides something unique, since it reports on a participatory and empowering qualitative ‘action research’ project conducted and funded as part of the Equal Community Initiative’s Forward Development Partnership, which was based in and focused on two communities in central England (Birmingham and Solihull). The Development Partnership was...

  19. ELEVEN Is extending working life possible? Research and policy issues
    (pp. 185-202)
    Chris Phillipson

    In the opening decade of the 21st century, much uncertainty still surrounds the transition from work to retirement. The causal factors here come from various directions associated with economic, social and cultural change. The economic foundation of retirement has been undermined with the unravelling of state and personal pensions, and the movement of companies from defined benefit to money purchase schemes. The social desirability of retirement has also been questioned, with moves to increasing state pension age in virtually all industrialised economies (DWP, 2006a; OECD, 2006).¹ The meanings attached to retirement have, at the same time, become more complex, reflecting...

  20. TWELVE The future for older workers: opportunities and constraints
    (pp. 203-226)
    Sarah Vickerstaff, Wendy Loretto and Phil White

    This concluding chapter reviews the common and emerging themes from the contributions to this collection and points to what are likely to be the key issues for older workers, their employers and their governments in the coming decades. Following an initial assessment of the concerns, problems and opportunities expressed by the contributors, the chapter is divided into four sections: first, a discussion of government policy and legislative developments that are changing the employment landscape for older workers; second, a consideration of the perspectives of employers as to the threats and opportunities they associate with an ageing workforce; third, an assessment...

  21. Index
    (pp. 227-237)