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Boosting the Employment Rate of Older Men and Women

  • V. Vandenberghe

    ()

European countries need to expand employment among older individuals. Many papers have examined this issue from different angles. However, very few seem to have considered its gender dimension properly, despite evidence that lifting the overall senior employment rate requires significantly raising that of women older than 50. The key issue examined by this paper is whether employers are willing to employ more older workers, in particular older women. The answer depends to a large extent on the ratio of older individuals’ productivity to their cost to employers. To address this question we tap into a unique firm-level panel of Belgian data to produce robust evidence on the causal effect of age/gender on productivity and labour costs. We take advantage of the panel structure to identify age/gender-related differences from within-firm variation. Moreover, inspired by recent developments in the production function estimation literature, we address the problem of endogeneity of the age/gender mix, using a structural production function estimator (Olley & Pakes, 1996; Levinsohn & Petrin, 2003) alongside IV-GMM methods where lagged value of labour inputs are used as instruments. Our results indicate a small negative impact of larger shares of older men on the productivity-labour cost ratio. An increment of 10%-points of in their share causes a 0.17 to 0.69%-point contraction. However, the main result is that the equivalent handicap with older women is larger, ranging from 1.3 to 2.0%-points. This is not good news for older women’s employability. And the vast services industry does not seem to offer working conditions that mitigate older women’s disadvantage, on the contrary.

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Article provided by Springer in its journal De Economist.

Volume (Year): 159 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 (June)
Pages: 159-191

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Handle: RePEc:kap:decono:v:159:y:2011:i:2:p:159-191
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