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Older Workers in an Ageing Society

Older Workers in an Ageing Society

Critical Topics in Research and Policy

Globalization and Welfare series

Edited by Philip Taylor

Prolonging working lives is high on the agenda of policy makers in most of the world’s major industrialized nations. This book explains how they are keen to tackle issues associated with the ageing of populations, namely the funding of pension systems and predictions concerning a dwindling labour supply. Yet the recent history of older workers has primarily been one of premature exit from the labour force in the form of redundancy or early retirement. Add to this a previously plentiful supply of younger labour and it is clear that much of industry will be unprepared for the challenges of ageing workforces.

Chapter 3: Older workers and older worker policies in Germany

Gerd Naegele

Subjects: social policy and sociology, ageing, comparative social policy, labour policy


In Germany, there is no generally accepted age limit defining when a worker is considered as ‘old’ in the world of employment. On the basis of age limits set by the European Commission, for example, an age limit of 55 can be assumed. The OECD completely dispenses with definitions fixed by the calendar, speaking instead of older workers whenever these are ‘in the second half of their working lives, not yet in retirement and in good health’. In German social legislation, several different age limits are found. These start at age 45, and extend to age 55. External assessments carried out by human resources experts have proved useful. According to such assessments, both corporate executive teams and works councils consider employees around the age of 50 as belonging to the group of older workers, with women a little earlier than men and workers employed in typical blue-collar jobs are considered to be older workers at a much earlier stage than intellectuals. Executives are the group most advanced in age before they are counted as older workers.

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