Work and retirement in an ageing world: the case of older workers in the UK

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One of the key consequences of an ageing world has been to cast research and policy spotlights onto the ‘older workforce’. Approaches have differed between countries, but common supply-oriented initiatives include encouraging people to work longer by removing barriers to entering, or remaining in, work, and providing disincentives to leave work ‘early’, i.e. before or at retirement age. Less attention has been paid to the demand for older workers, although various legislative approaches have prevailed upon employers to adopt fairer employment practices or to manage actively their ageing workforce. Using the case of the United Kingdom as its starting point, this article draws upon an international body of research to appraise critically some of the key contemporary concerns and debates surrounding the employability of older workers, taken here to mean those aged 50 years and over. It questions the extent to which the hold on early retirement is weakening; investigates employers’ practices and attitudes towards older workers; examines trends in age discrimination; and takes into account the often neglected voice in these debates—that of the older workers themselves. The article concludes by considering some implications for current and future attempts to alter the balance between work and the rest of our lives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-294
JournalTwenty-First Century Society: Journal of the Academy of Social Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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