Age and productivity capacity: Descriptions, causes and policy options

Skirbekk V (2008). Age and productivity capacity: Descriptions, causes and policy options. Ageing Horizons 8: 4-12.

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Abstract

This article reviews how work performance differs over the life cycle by describing and discussing findings from various approaches. This includes managers evaluations, the quantity and quality of goods and services produced by workers of different ages, the performance of age-mixed teams, to what extent the age distribution of employees depends on the type of work and how the age distribution changes due to technological change and business cycle shocks, analyses of employer-employee datasets, descriptions of age-earnings profiles in settings where they could reflect performance and the output of researchers and artists over the life cycle. The causes of productivity variation by age are also considered, with a particular focus on experience and cognitive abilities. The findings suggest that productivity tend to increase during the initial years in the labour market before it stabilizes and often declines towards the end of the working life. Productivity reductions at older ages are strongest in job tasks where problem solving, learning and speed are important, while for work tasks where experience and verbal abilities matter more, there is less or no reduction in productivity among elderly workers. Trends in the age-productivity relation are discussed in relation to changing work tasks and job requirements, combined with changes in the requirement of skills (decline in demand for physical strength, increase in the need to learn new skills). Policies that could be considered to raise productivity among senior workers include on-the-job training, education and promotion of health. However, a later retirement could also raise incentives to update ones own skills and work harder at older ages (which may be achieved through pension reforms and wage liberalisation). Moreover, a better agemix in the workplace, allowing older and younger individuals to benefit from their comparative advantages, is likely to improve overall productivity in ageing nations.

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: World Population (POP)
Bibliographic Reference: Ageing Horizons; 8:4-12 (2008)
Related URLs:
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:41
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2016 09:57
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/8588

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