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The Decline of Employment Among Older People in Britain


  • Nigel Campbell


Older men have experienced the largest falls in employment over the last twenty years. Two-fifths of men aged between 55 and 65 are without work, compared to one-fifth in 1979, equivalent to 600,000 fewer jobs. Older women have not shared in the general rise of female employment. This paper analyses the Labour Force Survey and the first six waves of the British Household Panel Survey to examine why older people's employment has fallen, which groups have been most affected, and whether these trends are likely to continue. The people most likely to leave the labour market are either (a) in the bottom quartile of the wage distribution or (b) with wages in the top half but who are also members of an occupational pension scheme. Once displaced, few older people return to work. There are instead significant transitions between unemployment, long-term sickness and retirement, almost always weakening attachment to the labour market. Furthermore, falling male employment seems to be part of an ongoing trend, rather than simply affecting one unfortunate generation.

Suggested Citation

  • Nigel Campbell, 1999. "The Decline of Employment Among Older People in Britain," CASE Papers 019, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:sticas:019

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Machin, Stephen, 1996. "Wage Inequality in the UK," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(1), pages 47-64, Spring.
    2. Paul Gregg, 1994. "Share and share alike," New Economy, Institute for Public Policy Research, vol. 1(1), pages 13-19, March.
    3. Richard Disney, 1995. "Occupational pension schemes: prospects and reforms in the UK," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 16(3), pages 19-39, September.
    4. Sarah Tanner, 1998. "The dynamics of male retirement behaviour," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 19(2), pages 175-196, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Allen Jim & Grip Andries de, 2007. "Skill Obsolescence, Lifelong Learning and Labor Market Participation," ROA Research Memorandum 006, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
    2. 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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    labour force participation; older workers;


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