Labor-Force Participation, Policies & Practices in an Aging America: Adaptation Essential for a Healthy and Resilient Population

25 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2015

See all articles by Lisa Berkman

Lisa Berkman

Harvard University - T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Axel H. Börsch-Supan

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA)

Mauricio Avendano

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)

Date Written: September 1, 2015

Abstract

Population aging in the United States poses challenges to societal institutions while simultaneously creating opportunities to build a more resilient, successful, and cohesive society. Work organization and labor-force participation are central to both the opportunities and challenges posed by our aging society. We argue that expectations about old age have not sufficiently adapted to the reality of aging today. Our institutions need more adaptation in order to successfully face the consequences of demographic change. Although this adaptation needs to focus especially on work patterns among the “younger elderly,” our society has to change its general attitudes toward work organization and labor-force participation, which will have implications for education and health care. We also show that work’s beneficial effects on well-being in older ages are often neglected, while the idea that older workers displace younger workers is a misconception emerging from the “lump of labor” fallacy. We conclude, therefore, that working at older ages can lead to better quality of life for older people and to a more productive and resilient society overall.

Suggested Citation

Berkman, Lisa and Börsch-Supan, Axel H. and Avendano, Mauricio, Labor-Force Participation, Policies & Practices in an Aging America: Adaptation Essential for a Healthy and Resilient Population (September 1, 2015). Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy Discussion Paper No. 29-2014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2663312 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2663312

Lisa Berkman

Harvard University - T.H. Chan School of Public Health ( email )

677 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA MA 02115
United States

Axel H. Börsch-Supan (Contact Author)

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) ( email )

Amalienstrasse 33
Munich, 80799
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.mea.mpisoc.mpg.de

Mauricio Avendano

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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