Unraveling the Age-Productivity Nexus: Confronting Perceptions of Employers and Employees

CentER Discussion Paper Series No. 2009-04

31 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2009

See all articles by Hendrik P. van Dalen

Hendrik P. van Dalen

Tilburg University, CentER; Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)

Kene Henkens

Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute

Joop Schippers

Utrecht University - Utrecht University School of Economics

Date Written: January 12, 2009

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.

Keywords: aging, stereotypes, productivity, employers

JEL Classification: D21, J24, J71, M51

Suggested Citation

van Dalen, Hendrik P. and Henkens, Kene and Schippers, Joop, Unraveling the Age-Productivity Nexus: Confronting Perceptions of Employers and Employees (January 12, 2009). CentER Discussion Paper Series No. 2009-04. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1326390 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1326390

Hendrik P. Van Dalen (Contact Author)

Tilburg University, CentER ( email )

Tilburg University
P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, NL-5000 LE
Netherlands
+13 4668982 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.tilburguniversity.nl/webwijs/show/?uid=h.p.vandalen

Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI) ( email )

P.O. Box 11650
NL-2502 AR The Hague
Netherlands
+70 356 5237 (Phone)
+70 364 7187 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.nidi.knaw.nl/en/staff/vandalen/

Kene Henkens

Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute ( email )

P.O. Box 11650
The Hague NL-2502 AR
Netherlands
+3170 3565235 (Phone)
+3170 3647187 (Fax)

Joop Schippers

Utrecht University - Utrecht University School of Economics ( email )

Kriekenpitplein 21-22
Adam Smith Building
Utrecht, +31 30 253 7373 3584 EC
Netherlands

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