Promises and Prospects
Edited by Philip Taylor
Chapter 4: Sing if you’re Glad to be Grey. Working Towards a Happier Older Age in the United Kingdom
Philip Taylor I’m coming up to that age but it’s funny, as you get older you become more and more interested in the future. You live for your family and future generations. Margaret Thatcher* INTRODUCTION Students of the ﬁeld of age and work would, of course, reﬂect on the irony of the above quote from Margaret Thatcher, who led a Conservative administration at a time when public policy was overtly aimed at excluding older workers from the labour market, their future, at least concerning paid work, apparently viewed as less important than that of the generations that followed. There is, in fact, a longer history of consideration of the issue of the employment of older workers in the United Kingdom, going back at least as far as the 1950s when post-war labour shortages encouraged debate about increasing their participation. In the present, the national debate concerns the so-called pension crisis brought about by an ageing population and a lack of investment in retirement income systems. Add to the mix strong economic growth over the last decade with concerns about labour shortages, and what was a discussion about the disadvantages facing older workers in the 1980s and 1990s has been transformed into one about how to extend working lives. Observing the changing fortunes of older workers in recent times, it is easy to be somewhat sceptical that a lasting change is under way, yet it does appear that their status is improving, underpinned by public policy reforms and buttressed by...
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