Does removing default retirement ages benefit individuals? A comparative empirical case study of the university sector

International Journal of Discrimination and the Law

33 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2021

See all articles by Alysia Blackham

Alysia Blackham

Melbourne Law School, the University of Melbourne; University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Center on Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law

Date Written: March 4, 2021

Abstract

In 2011, the UK government abolished the national default retirement age. While this could support extended working lives and promote individual choice, it could also be a neoliberal ‘ploy’ to individualise the risks of old age. The question, then, is what impact does the removal of mandatory retirement have in practice: does it help to promote individual choice and autonomy? Or does it simply lead to work intensification and the individualisation of the risks of demographic change? Or both, perhaps simultaneously?

Drawing on original qualitative and quantitative empirical data from UK and USA universities, this article considers the impact of removing mandatory retirement ages on individual workers in higher education. It argues that legal reform may have promoted or encouraged work intensification in universities, including through an increased focus and use of performance management. Thus, in practice, the consequences of removing retirement ages for individuals are mixed.

Keywords: age discrimination, retirement age, universities, work, intensification, performance management, United Kingdom

Suggested Citation

Blackham, Alysia, Does removing default retirement ages benefit individuals? A comparative empirical case study of the university sector (March 4, 2021). International Journal of Discrimination and the Law, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3797367

Alysia Blackham (Contact Author)

Melbourne Law School, the University of Melbourne ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.findanexpert.unimelb.edu.au/display/person97769

University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Center on Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law

Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

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