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Unraveling the age-productivity nexus : Confronting perceptions of employers and employees

Author

Listed:
  • van Dalen, H.P.

    (Tilburg University, Center For Economic Research)

  • Henkens, C.J.I.M.

    (Tilburg University, Center For Economic Research)

  • Schippers, J.

Abstract

What determines the perceived productivity of young and older workers? In this study we present evidence for (Dutch) employers and employees. By confronting the perceptions of employers and employees some remarkable similarities and differences are revealed. It turns out that productivity perceptions are biased by the age group to which one belongs and the position in the hierarchy in the organization. The young favor the young, the old favor the old and employers discount productivity compared to employees. However, there are also remarkable similarities across employer and employees. By distinguishing the various underlying dimensions of productivity of young and older workers we tested whether ‘soft’ skills and abilities within the organization are just as important as the ‘hard’ dimensions - cognitive and physically based skills - in the eye of employers and employees. It appears that employers and employees weight the soft and the hard dimensions of skills in a uniform way: hard skills are far more important than soft skills no matter whether the worker is old or young. By sharing the stereotypical images the problem of age discrimination may therefore not only be due to employers’ behaviors and attitudes, but also due to those of employees.

Suggested Citation

  • van Dalen, H.P. & Henkens, C.J.I.M. & Schippers, J., 2009. "Unraveling the age-productivity nexus : Confronting perceptions of employers and employees," Discussion Paper 2009-4, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:tiu:tiucen:afd5360a-f62d-43b6-a323-f6ed5a1ffc39
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    File URL: https://pure.uvt.nl/ws/portalfiles/portal/1063555/2009-04.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane, 2003. "The skill content of recent technological change: an empirical exploration," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
    2. Bloom, David E & Williamson, Jeffrey G, 1998. "Demographic Transitions and Economic Miracles in Emerging Asia," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 12(3), pages 419-455, September.
    3. Alison L. Chasteen & Norbert Schwarz & Denise C. Park, 2002. "The Activation of Aging Stereotypes in Younger and Older Adults," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 57(6), pages 540-547.
    4. Alicia H. Munnell & Steven A. Sass & Mauricio Soto, 2006. "Employer Attitudes towards Older Workers: Survey Results," Work Opportunity Briefs wob_3, Center for Retirement Research.
    5. Jianmin Tang & Carolyn MacLeod, 2006. "Labour force ageing and productivity performance in Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 39(2), pages 582-603, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. van Dalen, H.P. & Henkens, K., 2015. "Why Demotion of Older Workers is a No-Go Area for Managers," Discussion Paper 2015-025, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    aging; stereotypes; productivity; employers;

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • M51 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Firm Employment Decisions; Promotions

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