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Why Has Employment Recently Risen Among Older Workers in Britain?

In: The Labour Market Under New Labour


  • Richard Disney
  • Denise Hawkes


From late 1998 to late 2002, employment among those aged 50 and over increased by 650,000. Their employment rate also rose, by 2 percentage points. This is in sharp contrast to the downward trend in the two decades prior to the mid-1990s. This growth was disproportionately concentrated among people in their 50s rather than their 60s, women rather than men and, on balance, among more highly educated workers. The buoyant economy of the period is a major reason for the upturn — there is a particularly strong association between the growth of GDP and the employment rate of people aged in their 50s (relative to older workers). On the demand side, demographic change and the shift to a service sector-based economy may reduce the likelihood of future precipitate falls in employment of older workers of the kind that was experienced in the early 1980s. On the supply side, falling equity markets and tighter regulations concerning ill-health related retirement in public pension programmes may have led people to postpone retirement. There is no clear evidence that reforms to the public disability insurance programme have had any effect on employment rates. Other policies, such as the voluntary code of practice on age diversity and New Deal 50 Plus may have had small effects on employment but mostly serve to keep the issue of employment of older workers on the public agenda.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Disney & Denise Hawkes, 2003. "Why Has Employment Recently Risen Among Older Workers in Britain?," Palgrave Macmillan Books, in: Richard Dickens & Paul Gregg & Jonathan Wadsworth (ed.), The Labour Market Under New Labour, chapter 4, pages 53-69, Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:palchp:978-0-230-59845-4_5
    DOI: 10.1057/9780230598454_5

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    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. James Banks & Richard Blundell & Antoine Bozio & Carl Emmerson, 2010. "Releasing Jobs for the Young? Early Retirement and Youth Unemployment in the United Kingdom," NBER Chapters, in: Social Security Programs and Retirement around the World: The Relationship to Youth Employment, pages 319-344, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Jeff Borland, 2005. "Transitions to Retirement: A Review," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2005n03, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    3. D Leslie & D Blackaby & P Murphy & N OLeary, 2009. "The Employment and Earnings of Britains Senior Citizens," Economic Issues Journal Articles, Economic Issues, vol. 14(2), pages 1-26, September.


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