IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Are Older Workers Willing to Learn?


  • Ruhose, Jens
  • Thomsen, Stephan L.
  • Weilage, Insa


Adult education can mitigate the productivity decline in aging societies if older workers are willing to learn. We examine a generous partial retirement reform in Germany that led to a massive increase in early retirement. Using county-level administrative data on voluntary education activities, we employ a difference-in-differences approach for identification. The estimates show a strong increase in participation in adult education, specifically in cognitively demanding courses, for early retirees who would have continued working in the absence of the reform. This supports the notion of an intrinsic willingness of older individuals to acquire skills and abilities independent of financial incentives.

Suggested Citation

  • Ruhose, Jens & Thomsen, Stephan L. & Weilage, Insa, 2020. "Are Older Workers Willing to Learn?," GLO Discussion Paper Series 580, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:580

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Thomsen, Stephan L. & Trunzer, Johannes, 2020. "Did the Bologna Process Challenge the German Apprenticeship System? Evidence from a Natural Experiment," GLO Discussion Paper Series 690, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    2. Buhr, Daniel & Koch, Andreas & König, Tobias & Laub, Natalie & Reiner, Marcel, 2023. "Innovationen für und durch ältere Menschen," Studien zum deutschen Innovationssystem 7-2023, Expertenkommission Forschung und Innovation (EFI) - Commission of Experts for Research and Innovation, Berlin.

    More about this item


    partial retirement; early retirement; older workers; adult education; generalized difference-in-differences;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:580. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no bibliographic references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.