IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Are firms willing to employ a greying and feminizing workforce?

  • Vandenberghe, V.

Are employers willing to employ more older individuals, in particular older women? Higher employment among the older segments of the population will only materialize if firms are willing to employ them. Although several economists have started considering the demand side of the labour market for older individuals, few have considered its gender dimension properly; despite evidence that lifting the overall senior employment rate in the EU requires significantly raising that of women older than 50. In this paper, we posit that labour demand and employability depend to a large extent on how the age/gender composition of the workforce affects firm's profits. Using unique firm-level panel data we produce robust evidence on the causal effect of age/gender on productivity (value added per worker), total labour costs and gross profits. We take advantage of the panel structure of data and resort to first differences to deal with a potential time-invariant heterogeneity bias. Moreover, inspired by recent developments in the production function estimation literature, we also address the risk of simultaneity bias (endogeneity of firm's age-gender mix choices in the short run) by combining first differences with i) the structural approach suggested by Ackerberg, Caves and Frazer (2006), ii) alongside more traditional IV-GMM methods (Blundell and Bond, 1998) where lagged values of labour inputs are used as instruments. Results suggest no negative impact of rising shares of older men on firm's gross profits, but a large negative effect of larger shares of older women. Another interesting result is that the vast and highly feminized services industry does not seem to offer working conditions that mitigate older women's productivity and employability disadvantage, on the contrary. This is not good news for older women's employability and calls for policy interventions in the Belgian private economy aimed at combating women's decline of productivity with age and/or better adapting labour costs to age-gender productivity profiles.

If 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.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

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.

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Labour Economics.

Volume (Year): 22 (2013)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 30-46

in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:labeco:v:22:y:2013:i:c:p:30-46
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Judith K. Hellerstein & David Neumark, 1995. "Are Earnings Profiles Steeper Than Productivity Profiles? Evidence from Israeli Firm-Level Data," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(1), pages 89-112.
  2. Dostie, Benoit & Léger, Pierre Thomas, 2011. "Firm-Sponsored Classroom Training: Is It Worth It for Older Workers?," IZA Discussion Papers 6123, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. V. Vandenberghe, 2011. "Boosting the Employment Rate of Older Men and Women," De Economist, Springer, vol. 159(2), pages 159-191, June.
  4. Alessandra Cataldi & Stephan Kampelmann & François Rycx, 2011. "Productivity-Wage Gaps Among Age Groups: Does the ICT Environment Matter?," De Economist, Springer, vol. 159(2), pages 193-221, June.
  5. Olley, G Steven & Pakes, Ariel, 1996. "The Dynamics of Productivity in the Telecommunications Equipment Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(6), pages 1263-97, November.
  6. Judith Hellerstein & David Neumark, 2004. "Production Function and Wage Equation Estimation with Heterogenous Labor: Evidence from a New Matched Employer-Employee Dataset," Working Papers 04-05, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  7. Richard Blundell & Steve Bond, 1999. "GMM estimation with persistent panel data: an application to production functions," IFS Working Papers W99/04, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  8. Bernd Fitzenberger & Reinhold Schnabel & Gaby Wunderlich, 2004. "The gender gap in labor market participation and employment: A cohort analysis for West Germany," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 83-116, February.
  9. Chad Syverson, 2010. "What Determines Productivity?," NBER Working Papers 15712, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Thierry Lallemand & François Rycx, 2009. "Are young and old workers harmful for firm productivity?," DULBEA Working Papers 09-02.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  11. James Levinsohn & Amil Petrin, 2003. "Estimating Production Functions Using Inputs to Control for Unobservables," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(2), pages 317-341.
  12. Sveinbjörn Blöndal & Stefano Scarpetta, 1999. "The Retirement Decision in OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 202, OECD Publishing.
  13. Pfeifer, Christian & Wagner, Joachim, 2012. "Age and Gender Composition of the Workforce, Productivity and Profits: Evidence from a New Type of Data for German Enterprises," IZA Discussion Papers 6381, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. Saint-Paul, Gilles, 2010. "Does the welfare state make older workers unemployable?," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Docweb) 1003, CEPREMAP.
  15. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2005. "Sex differences in morbidity and mortality," Demography, Springer, vol. 42(2), pages 189-214, May.
  16. Vincent VANDENBERGHE, 2011. "Firm-level Evidence on Gender Wage Discrimination in the Belgian Private Economy," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2011016, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
  17. Olivia S. Mitchell & Gary S. Fields, 1983. "The Economics of Retirement Behavior," NBER Working Papers 1128, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Benoit Dostie, 2006. "Wages, Productivity and Aging," Cahiers de recherche 0645, CIRPEE.
  19. David Dorn & Alfonso Sousa-Poza, 2010. "'Voluntary' and 'involuntary' early retirement: an international analysis," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(4), pages 427-438.
  20. Ana Cardoso & Paulo Guimarães & José Varejão, 2011. "Are Older Workers Worthy of Their Pay? An Empirical Investigation of Age-Productivity and Age-Wage Nexuses," De Economist, Springer, vol. 159(2), pages 95-111, June.
  21. JOUSTEN, Alain & LEFEBVRE, Mathieu & PERELMAN, Sergio & PESTIEAU, Pierre, . "The effects of early retirement on youth unemployment: the case of Belgium," CORE Discussion Papers RP 2199, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  22. Adriaan Kalwij & Frederic Vermeulen, 2008. "Health and labour force participation of older people in Europe: What do objective health indicators add to the analysis?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(5), pages 619-638.
  23. Grund, Christian & Westergård-Nielsen, Niels, 2005. "Age Structure of the Workforce and Firm Performance," Working Papers 05-10, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics.
  24. Arellano, Manuel & Bond, Stephen, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(2), pages 277-97, April.
  25. Hellerstein, Judith K & Neumark, David & Troske, Kenneth R, 1999. "Wages, Productivity, and Worker Characteristics: Evidence from Plant-Level Production Functions and Wage Equations," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(3), pages 409-46, July.
  26. Patrick Aubert & Bruno Crépon, 2003. "La productivité des salariés âgés : une tentative d'estimation," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 368(1), pages 95-119.
  27. James Levinsohn & Amil Petrin, 2000. "Estimating Production Functions Using Inputs to Control for Unobservables," NBER Working Papers 7819, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  28. Z, Griliches & Jacques Mairesse, 1997. "Production Functions : The Search for Identification," Working Papers 97-30, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
  29. Eric J. Bartelsman & Mark Doms, 2000. "Understanding productivity: lessons from longitudinal microdata," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-19, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  30. Peracchi, Franco & Welch, Finis, 1994. "Trends in Labor Force Transitions of Older Men and Women," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(2), pages 210-42, April.
  31. Ackerberg, Daniel & Caves, Kevin & Frazer, Garth, 2006. "Structural identification of production functions," MPRA Paper 38349, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  32. Malmberg, Bo & Lindh, Thomas & Halvarsson, Max, 2005. "Productivity consequences of workforce ageing - Stagnation or a Horndal effect?," Arbetsrapport 2005:17, Institute for Futures Studies.
  33. Jan Ours & Lenny Stoeldraijer, 2011. "Age, Wage and Productivity in Dutch Manufacturing," De Economist, Springer, vol. 159(2), pages 113-137, June.
  34. Pozzebon, Silvana & Mitchell, Olivia S, 1989. "Married Women's Retirement Behavior," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 39-53.
  35. Göbel, Christian & Zwick, Thomas, 2009. "Age and productivity: evidence from linked employer employee data," ZEW Discussion Papers 09-020, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:labeco:v:22:y:2013:i:c:p:30-46. 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: (Zhang, Lei)

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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.