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Adjusting to an Aging Labor Force

In: Issues in the Economics of Aging

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  • Edward P. Lazear

Abstract

Demographic changes in the labor force will imply that firms must change their labor policies in the coming decades. My estimates suggest that the labor force will get older and more female. The aging will not be as pronounced for males as for females because the trend toward early retirement among males will offset demographic changes. The size of the labor force will grow until around 2015 and then will decline. Given these changes, there are a number of issues that face employers. First, the aging workforce may mean an increase in the size of the firm's current deficit, defined as the difference between sales and labor cost. Second, under these circumstances, firms may do well to invest in assets that are highly correlated with the nominal wage bill liability. Short-term treasury bills are a good candidate, as is, paradoxically, putting pension assets back in the capital of the firm itself. This strategy can reduce the risk of bankruptcy. Third, explicit buyouts are the easiest way to reduce the size of the elderly workforce. But this will not help the individual firm's deficit problem. Fourth, declining ages of retirement among males can be reversed by changes in social security policy. A decline in real benefits and increase in the age of entitlement are likely to have the largest effects on raising the retirement age.
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Suggested Citation

  • Edward P. Lazear, 1990. "Adjusting to an Aging Labor Force," NBER Chapters,in: Issues in the Economics of Aging, pages 287-316 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:7121
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kevin M. Murphy & Finis Welch, 1992. "The Structure of Wages," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 285-326.
    2. Andrei Shleifer & Lawrence H. Summers, 1988. "Breach of Trust in Hostile Takeovers," NBER Chapters,in: Corporate Takeovers: Causes and Consequences, pages 33-68 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Welch, Finis, 1979. "Effects of Cohort Size on Earnings: The Baby Boom Babies' Financial Bust," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 65-97, October.
    4. Finis Welch, 1979. "Effects of Cohort Size on Earnings: The Baby Boom Babies' Financial Bust," UCLA Economics Working Papers 146, UCLA Department of Economics.
    5. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1990. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Job Ladders," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(1), pages 106-123, January.
    6. repec:hoo:wpaper:e-88-18 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Rosen, Sherwin, 1985. "Implicit Contracts: A Survey," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, pages 1144-1175.
    8. Rosen, Sherwin, 1985. "Implicit Contracts: A Survey," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, pages 1144-1175.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hendrik P. van Dalen & Kène Henkens & Wilma Henderikse & Joop Schippers, 2010. "Do European employers support later retirement?," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 31(3), pages 360-373, June.
    2. Didier Blanchet & Cécile Brousse, 1994. "L'extension de la retraite : quelques approches explicatives," Revue Économique, Programme National Persée, vol. 45(3), pages 775-788.
    3. Louise Sheiner, 1999. "Health care costs, wages, and aging," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1999-19, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    4. Phillip B. Levine & Olivia S. Mitchell, 1991. "Expected Changes in the Workforce and Implications for Labor Markets," NBER Working Papers 3743, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Paul Hek & Daniel Vuuren, 2011. "Are older workers overpaid? A literature review," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 18(4), pages 436-460, August.
    6. Vegard Skirbekk, 2004. "Age and Individual Productivity: A Literature Survey," Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, pages 133-154.
    7. Loïc Cadiou & Julien Genet & Jean-Louis Guérin, 2002. "Évolutions démographiques et marché du travail : des liens complexes parfois contradictoires," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 355(1), pages 139-156.
    8. Hendrik P. Van Dalen & Kène Henkens & Joop Schippers, 2010. "How do employers cope with an ageing workforce?," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 22(32), pages 1015-1036, June.

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