IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/bla/ecpoli/v22y2007ip117-175.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Age, seniority and labour costs: lessons from the Finnish IT revolution

Author

Listed:
  • Francesco Daveri
  • Mika Maliranta

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Francesco Daveri & Mika Maliranta, 2007. "Age, seniority and labour costs: lessons from the Finnish IT revolution," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 22, pages 117-175, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ecpoli:v:22:y:2007:i::p:117-175
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1468-0327.2007.00175.x
    File Function: link to full text
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    More about this item

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bla:ecpoli:v:22:y:2007:i::p:117-175. See general 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 Content Delivery) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/cebruuk.html .

    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.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.