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Expected Changes in the Workforce and Implications for Labor Markets

  • Phillip B. Levine
  • Olivia S. Mitchell

This paper examines the likely effects of the aging of the baby boom on labor force attachment, unemployment, and wages. Labor market trends between now and 2020 are the focus of analysis, when the majority of the baby boom generation will confront its retirement decision. We begin by reviewing past labor force trends and discussing important limitations of existing projection methods. Key elements needed to project the consequences of the demographic shock facing the labor market are identified. The task of developing a fully specified economic model to examine the effect of the aging of the baby boom on the labor market is as yet incomplete. On the basis of the best available evidence, we suggest the following conclusions can be drawn: The trend towards earlier retirement will slow and perhaps reverse in the next few decades. Unemployment should fall among older workers and the aggregate full-employment unemployment rate should also decline as the baby boom ages. The aging of the baby boom will not depress wages substantially, either for older workers or for other demographic groups.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w3743.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3743.

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Date of creation: Jun 1991
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Publication status: published as Levine, Philip B. and Olivia S. Mitchell. "Expected Changes in the Work- Force and Implications for Labor Markets." Demography and Retirement: The 21st Century. Edited by A. Rappaport and R. Scheiber. Pension Research Concil, Praeger, 1993, P. 73-96.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3743
Note: LS
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. Hutchens, Robert, 1986. "Delayed Payment Contracts and a Firm's Propensity to Hire Older Workers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(4), pages 439-57, October.
  2. Richard B. Freeman, 1979. "The Effect of Demographic Factors on Age-Earnings Profiles," NBER Working Papers 0316, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Marie Howland & George E. Peterson, 1988. "Labor market conditions and the reemployment of displaced workers," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 42(1), pages 109-122, October.
  4. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 1981. "Partial Retirement and the Analysis of Retirement Behavior," NBER Working Papers 0763, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 1991. "Changing the Social Security rules for work after age 65," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 44(4), pages 733-745, July.
  6. Richard V. Burkhauser & Joseph F. Quinn, 1983. "Is Mandatory Retirement Overrated? Evidence from the 1970s," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 18(3), pages 337-358.
  7. 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.
  8. Michael Podgursky & Paul Swaim, 1987. "Job displacement and earnings loss: Evidence from the Displaced Worker Survey," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 41(1), pages 17-29, October.
  9. Joseph F. Quinn & Richard V. Burkhauser & Daniel A. Myers, 1990. "Passing the Torch: The Influence of Economic Incentives on Work and Retirement," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number pt, November.
  10. Robert Hutchens, 1988. "Do job opportunities decline with age?," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 42(1), pages 89-99, October.
  11. Robin L. Lumsdaine & James H. Stock & David A. Wise, 1990. "Efficient Windows and Labor Force Reduction," NBER Working Papers 3369, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Levine, Phillip B & Mitchell, Olivia S, 1988. "The Baby Boom's Legacy: Relative Wages in the Twenty-First Century," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 66-69, May.
  13. Olivia S. Mitchell & Rebecca A. Luzadis, 1988. "Changes in pension incentives through time," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 42(1), pages 100-108, October.
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