Age, seniority and labour costs: lessons from the Finnish IT revolution
Abstract"The bad labour market performance of the workforce over 50 indicates that an aged workforce is often a burden for firms. Our paper seeks to investigate whether and why this is the case by providing evidence on the relation between age, seniority and experience, on the one hand, and the main components of labour costs, namely productivity and wages, on the other, for a sample of plants in three manufacturing industries ('forest', 'industrial machinery' and 'electronics') in Finland during the IT revolution in the 1990s. In 'average' industries - those not undergoing major technological shocks - productivity and wages keep rising almost indefinitely with the accumulation of either seniority (in the forest industry) or experience (in the industry producing industrial machinery). In these industries, the skill depreciation often associated with higher seniority beyond a certain threshold does not seemingly raise labour costs. In electronics, instead, the seniority-productivity profile shows a positive relation first and then becomes negative as one looks at plants with higher average seniority. This body of evidence is consistent with the idea that fast technical change brings about accelerated skill depreciation of senior workers. We cannot rule out, however, that our correlations are also simultaneously produced by worker movements across plants. The seniority-earnings profile in electronics is instead rather similar to that observed for the other industries - a likely symptom of the prevailing Finnish wage bargaining institutions which tend to make seniority one essential element of wage determination. In the end, seniority matters for labour costs, not age as such. But only in high-tech industries, not in the economy at large. This is well tuned with previous research on gross flows of workers and jobs in the US and other OECD countries which unveiled the productivity-driving role of resource reallocation (or lack thereof) between plants. To improve the employability of the elderly at times of fast technical change, public policy should thus divert resources away from preserving existing jobs and lend more attention to the retraining of old workers to ease their reallocation away from less productive plants (or plants where they have become less productive) into new jobs." Copyright (c) CEPR, CES, MSH, 2007.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by CEPR & CES & MSH in its journal Economic Policy.
Volume (Year): 22 (2007)
Issue (Month): (01)
Contact details of provider:
Postal: 2nd Floor, 53-56 Great Sutton Street, London EC1V 0DG
Phone: +44 (0)20 7183 8801
Fax: +44 (0)20 7183 8820
Web page: http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=0266-4658
More information through EDIRC
Postal: Schackstr. 4, 80539 Munich
Phone: +49 (89) 2180-2748
Fax: +49 (89) 39 73 03
Web page: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/ifoHome/f-about/f2aboutces
More information through EDIRC
You can help add them by filling out this form.
CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page. reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing) or (Christopher F. Baum).
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.