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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 15: Working longer in a changing economy: will ageing populations mean ageing workforces?

Philip Taylor and Christopher McLoughlin

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


It would seem logical that ageing populations would result in ageing workforces. After a period when the attention of researchers was focused on the trend towards a shortening of working life (for example Kohli et al.,1991), there has been increasing attention in policy circles on examining pathways to work and on prolonging working lives among older workers. Recently, national government policymakers have been keen to promote company best practice examples but this ignores whether some industry sectors are more inclined to countenance older workforces than others. It is this issue that concerns this chapter. It begins by briefly summarizing public policy efforts in response to economic challenges resulting from population ageing, before going onto discuss the response of employers, particularly as they wrestle with an increasingly complex and dynamic operating environment. It concludes by asking questions about the future place of older workers in the labour markets of the industrialized nations, and how they will experience efforts to make them work for longer.

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