Living and Working in Europe 2014: Adapting to the realities of an ageing labour market

Older workers have been least affected by job loss since the onset of the economic crisis and have remained in employment at surprisingly high levels in comparison to previous recessions. However, the number of people aged 50-64 who are still at work is still well below the rate for those aged 25-49, and is undermining the Europe 2020 total employment target of 75% employment. This is partly due to the difficulties that older workers face to find new employment when they have lost their jobs, with unemployment after 50 becoming a de-facto early exit from the labour market. 

The need to adapt to an ageing labour market is highlighted in the ‘Living and Working in Europe 2014’ report. The report brings together research showing the issues that older workers are currently facing, as well as factors that are impacting their quality of life. Despite a growth in the number of part-time jobs in Europe, the working time of older workers is similar to that as the younger population. Many older workers are opting not to work at all, rather than to work the EU average of 40 hours per week. This means that Europe is losing out on their knowledge, expertise, and economic contribution to society. 

Although older people have been relatively safeguarded from the harshest effects of the crisis, they have been disproportionately affected by cuts to healthcare services. Pension contributions are also being increasingly used for broader support for families as the economic crisis has impacted the income of the younger population.

Older people are also reporting the lowest levels of well-being and happiness, with a growing gap developing in comparison with the rest of the population in terms of life satisfaction.  

For further information see the 'Quality of life, citizens and public services' chapter in the 'Living and Working in Europe 2014' report. 

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