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How Do Age Discrimination Laws Affect Older Workers?

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  • Joanna Lahey

Abstract

The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits age-based discrimination against older workers through hiring, firing, layoffs, compensation and other conditions of employment. The law covers most workers age 40 and older in firms with 20 or more employees. The question is whether the ADEA and similar state laws have helped or hurt older workers. On the one hand, the legislation may have prevented companies from unfairly dismissing older workers. On the other hand, the fear of lawsuits may have dissuaded employers from hiring older workers. If so, the law would benefit "insiders" who already have jobs but harm "outsiders" seeking employment. This brief discusses the history, mechanics, and impact of age protection laws in the United States. It summarized previous research and presents new findings using data from the Current Population Survey.

Suggested Citation

  • Joanna Lahey, 2006. "How Do Age Discrimination Laws Affect Older Workers?," Work Opportunity Briefs wob_5, Center for Retirement Research, revised Oct 2006.
  • Handle: RePEc:crr:crrwob:wob_5
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    File URL: http://crr.bc.edu/briefs/how-do-age-discrimination-laws-affect-older-workers/
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Joanna N. Lahey, 2008. "Age, Women, and Hiring: An Experimental Study," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(1).
    2. Adams, Scott J., 2004. "Age discrimination legislation and the employment of older workers," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 219-241, April.
    3. Michael Schuster & Christopher S. Miller, 1984. "An Empirical Assessment of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 38(1), pages 64-74, October.
    4. Orley Ashenfelter & David Card, 2002. "Did the Elimination of Mandatory Retirement Affect Faculty Retirement?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 957-980, September.
    5. David Neumark, 2003. "Age Discrimination Legislation in the United States," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 21(3), pages 297-317, July.
    6. Joni Hersch & W. Kip Viscusi, 2004. "Punitive Damages: How Judges and Juries Perform," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(1), pages 1-36, January.
    7. Siegelman, Peter & Donohue, John J, III, 1995. "The Selection of Employment Discrimination Disputes for Litigation: Using Business Cycle Effects to Test the Priest-Klein Hypothesis," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(2), pages 427-462, June.
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