Labor-force participation, policies & practices in an aging America: Adaptation essential for a healthy & resilient population

Lisa F. Berkman, Axel Boersch-Supan, Mauricio Avendano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations

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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-54
Number of pages14
JournalDaedalus
Volume144
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 4 Apr 2015
Externally publishedYes

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