Older Workers in a Globalizing World

Older Workers in a Globalizing World

An International Comparison of Retirement and Late-Career Patterns in Western Industrialized Countries

Dirk Hofäcker

This timely book investigates the growth of the early retirement trend and its varying spread among different groups of older workers in fourteen modern societies. It argues for a differentiated political approach to reverse early retirement, which relies on both pension and employability policies for older workers.

Chapter 4: The Macro-perspective: Late Careers and Retirement in International Comparison

Dirk Hofäcker

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


In the previous chapter, I developed theoretically based hypotheses to explain the origins, the cross-national variation and the observable interindividual differences in the trend toward early retirement: 1. I argued that globalization should have weakened older workers’ labor-force attachment, as it leads to massive restructuring processes in both the economic and the occupational structures of modern societies, thereby triggering a rising discrepancy between older workers’ high wage levels and levels of employment protection, on the one hand, and their increasingly outdated qualification and skills, on the other (section 3.2). However, based on a thorough examination of institutional filters at the nation-state level, I expected that the extent of the decline in older workers’ employment due to globalization should show significant variations across countries. I argued that pension systems, systems of education and vocational training, modes of labor market regulation and the interplay of active and passive employment policies ‘filter’ the labor-shedding influence of globalization on older workers and lead to different levels of older workers’ employment participation and labor market mobility in different types of institutional regimes (section 3.3). Finally, I argued that, even within countries, distinct groups of older workers will be differentially affected by globalization effects and hence will experience varying levels of exit and labor market mobility. Section 3.4 explicitly discussed the role of these micro-level filters with regard to workplace characteristics, human capital resources and individual financial capacities, and developed hypotheses addressing both their general effects on older workers’ employment and the expected variation of these...

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