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Employer Attitudes towards Older Workers: Survey Results

  • Alicia H. Munnell
  • Steven A. Sass


    (Center for Retirement Research, Boston College)

  • Mauricio Soto

    (Center for Retirement Research, Boston College)

Today men on average retire at 63 and women at 62, and they can expect to spend 20 years in retirement. But if Americans continue to retire as early as they do today, many will not have adequate income once they stop working. Social Security will provide less relative to pre-retirement earnings as the normal retirement age rises from 65 to 67 and those lucky enough to have a 401(k) plan are likely to find their balances inadequate. One solution to the retirement security challenge is for people to work longer. Working longer directly increases a person’s current income; it avoids the actuarial reduction in Social Security benefits; it allows people to contribute more to their 401(k) plans; it allows their assets more time to accumulate investment earnings; and it shortens the period over which people have to support themselves with their retirement assets. So it stands to reason that workers would choose to extend their careers. But will they find employment? Some evidence suggests that employers have not been especially fond of older workers. For example, older workers who lose a job have had a much harder time finding another. And many employers actually use sweetened early retirement incentives to get older workers to leave. On the other hand, today’s older workers are far better educated than older workers just a decade ago; they are more physically fit; and the shift from goods-producing to services-producing jobs has reduced the physical demands of work, which should enhance the employment prospects of older workers. To get a better understanding of the employment prospects of older workers, the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College (CRR) conducted a survey of 400 private sector employers. These employers were asked to evaluate the relative productivity and cost of white-collar and rank-and-file workers age 55 and older and whether, on balance, older employees or job candidates were more or less attractive than their younger counterparts.

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Paper provided by Center for Retirement Research in its series Work Opportunity Briefs with number wob_3.

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Length: 14 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:crr:crrwob:wob_3
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  1. Sewin Chan & Ann Huff Stevens, 1999. "Employment and Retirement Following a Late Career Job Loss," Departmental Working Papers 199903, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  2. Jeffrey M Wooldridge, 2010. "Econometric Analysis of Cross Section and Panel Data," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 0262232588, June.
  3. Alicia H. Munnell & Marric Buessing & Mauricio Soto & Steven A. Sass, 2006. "Will We Have To Work Forever?," Work Opportunity Briefs wob_4, Center for Retirement Research, revised Jul 2006.
  4. Vegard Skirbekk, 2003. "Age and individual productivity: a literature survey," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2003-028, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
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