CLUSTER PROJECT 10: 60+ AS A NATIONAL ASSET: ABILITY TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE ECONOMY: LABOUR MARKET POLICY AND FLEXIBILITY FOR OLDER WORKERS

Project Overview:

The overall aim of this Cluster Project is to draw on Australian, European and other international experience to produce better understandings of the relationships between age, the labour market and retirement. Its purpose is to inform public policy aimed at the prolongation of working life, the effective management of ageing workforces, and the reconciliation of personal and organisational strategies. The research will look into ageism and the social construction of older workers, as well as those with chronic conditions and/ or disability, and possible policy responses. It will also examine possible new patterns of retirement and later-life employment, including ‘bridge’ employment and its effect on well-being.

Principal Researchers: Professor Philip Taylor (Federation University) and Professor Robert Lindley (University of Warwick)

Outcomes:

This paper examines the evolving and competing ‘world views’ about older workers and retirement from a public policy and social advocacy perspective. It identifies contradictions and disjunctions within public policies aimed at changing employer behaviour towards older workers. We argue that serious flaws in the current representations of older workers provide a weak basis for policy development and potentially exacerbate prejudicial attitudes towards older workers in society. In addition, we argue that the issue of older workers’ employment should be examined within the context of mainstream labour market issues. Directing these workers towards market-driven mainstream programs recognises the negative attitudes towards ageing but avoids trapping older workers in employment placements sheltered from competition.

Summary | Working Paper

In industrialised nations, age discrimination is widely viewed as a serious impediment to older workers’ employment, and age discrimination policies generally focus on jobseekers and workers aged over 50. These policies appear not to consider other sociological factors that may influence older workers’ prospects or the experiences of younger   workers. To assess the limitations of this current focus, we examine the concept of everyday discrimination by conducting a survey of a nationally representative sample of working Australians. Our results indicate that discrimination was experienced by 25 per cent of respondents, but there was little evidence of age differences in the extent of experiences. We argue that there may be an overemphasis on tackling age discrimination facing older workers, which obscures proper consideration of barriers to their participation, and may entrench ageist perceptions among labour market participants.

Summary | Working Paper

  • New Patterns of Retirement and Later-life Employment (still to come)
  • Employer Age Management Practice, Extending Working Life and the Retirement Process (still to come)
  • Translating Knowledge for Practice: Building an Evidence Base for Good Age Management in Australia (still to come)