Gendered impacts of extended working life on the health and economic wellbeing of older workers
Ní Léime, Áine
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Ní Léime, Áine, & Ogg, Jim. (2019). Gendered impacts of extended working life on the health and economic wellbeing of older workers. Ageing and Society, 1-7. doi: 10.1017/S0144686X18001800
This special issue focuses on the gendered impact of extending working life on the health and economic wellbeing of older workers. Since research on this increasingly important area of policy interest is well developed in some countries and newly emerging in others, a special issue provides an opportunity for scholars to access a variety of methods across different national contexts. Extending the working life is today widely promoted by international policy organisations such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and adopted by many governments as a necessary policy response to ageing populations. However, these policies have been introduced rather quickly without adequate consideration of their gender and health implications, and the papers here explore aspects of the often complex effects. Most European and other Western countries have implemented reforms to their public pension systems, mainly by increasing the statutory pension age and applying actuarial discount factors for earlier retirement, but also by closing special early exit pathways, tightening eligibility rules and lengthening the required duration of contributions (OECD, 2017). The structural rise in the labour force participation of women and the growth of service and public-sector employment have also contributed to extending working life (European Commission, 2018). As a result, employment rates in many European countries have risen steadily in the age group 55–64 over the past ten years although the trends vary considerably between men and women and between countries. These trends indicate that besides the institutional context, other macro-level factors also influence the extension of the working life. For instance, the global financial crisis that began in 2008 had a more or less severe impact on the employment prospects of older workers in different countries. In Spain, the employment rate among older men fell from 58.5 per cent in 2004 to 54 per cent in 2015 whereas during the same period it almost doubled in Germany among women – from 34 to 61.2 per cent (Eurostat, 2016). The increasing precariousness of employment also poses global structural challenges to employment prospects for older workers (Vosko, 2008; Standing, 2011; Ní Léime et al., 2015). At the meso-level, the attitudes of employers to maintaining or hiring older workers strongly influence the possibility and nature of their participation in the labour market (Gringart et al., 2005; Loretto and White, 2006; Kluge and Krings, 2008; Conen et al., 2012). At the individual level, factors such as health and disability, and family configurations play an important role in determining the timing of retirement as well as the experience of working longer (Ogg and Renaut, 2006; Berntson and Marklund, 2007; Brugiavini et al., 2008; Calvo et al., 2013). All of these factors interact and give rise to different trends between countries and different experiences of men and women within countries. Extended working life policies have been introduced apparently without adequate consideration of the gender implications for different groups of older workers – those in precarious and secure occupations, physically demanding jobs or sedentary jobs.