Thoughts from the 2008 World Ageing & Generations Congress

This is a guest post by Don Atwater, PhD, practitioner faculty of economics. It is a companion piece to Dr. Atwater’s GBR article, “Where Do Older Workers Go?

Don Atwater, PhD
Don Atwater, PhD

At the World Ageing & Generations Congress 2008 in Switzerland last month, I had the opportunity to talk to many people about older workers. John Martin, OECD Director for Employment, Labour & Social Affairs spoke about a “conundrum” :

Why don’t employers recognize that ageing is an important labor supply change process that needs a timely response?

My response was that the demographers assume that labor supply changes drive changes in labor demand. But a case can be made that businesses are creating new business models around new technologies and innovative ways of keeping up the dynamic markets and competition. These changes are supported by emerging financial plans but few if any have up-to-date workforce plans for workers of all ages. The older worker issue is part of a bigger problem with workforce planning in business. It is broken.

What do you think?

At the Congress, Masato Oka of the Economic Research Institute of Yokohama City University also spoke about his nation’s answer to older workers. You may recall that ageing in Japan has progressed at a faster rate than in European countries, which could have resulted in multiple fiscal crises as pension systems becoming insolvent. The resolution to this problem was to increase the mandatory age of retirement from 65 to 70.

The European Union, according to Philip Taylor, PhD, of the Swinburne University of Technology Business, Work and Ageing Centre for Research and other noted demographers, is not far behind. As early as next year, the mandatory age of retirement is likely to be moved from 65 to 67 with a longer range target of 70.

While the U.S. is on the lower end of the aging cycle compared to Europe and Japan, our turn is coming. Older workers are apparently getting the opportunity to work longer.

But will moving up the retirement age be acceptable to older workers in the U.S.?


Related Articles in the GBR

Where Do Older Workers Go? by Don Atwater, PhD, and Daniella Pop

Retirement Call to Action by Steven R. Ferraro, Darrol J. Stanley, Owen P. Hall, Jr.

Preparing for a Future Labor Shortage: How to stay ahead of the curve by Donald M. Atwater, PhD, and Aisha Jones

What You Need to Know About Labor Shortages by Donald M. Atwater, PhD, and Heather Klass

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Don Atwater, PhD, practitioner faculty of economics
Don Atwater, PhD, practitioner faculty of economics
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