Low economic activity among people over 45

The low activity rate in Poland’s labour market among women aged between 45 and 69 has been confirmed by a recent study. The research is being used to shape the government response to the problem of an ageing workforce combined with a rising retirement age. The research figures show the public sector is more likely than the private sector to employ people over the age of 45. In the private sector, this age group is most likely to be found working in small and medium-sized companies.

Background

A 2013 report, Diagnosis of the current situation of women and men aged 50+ on the labour market in Poland (66 MB PDF), investigates how active this age group is in the country’s labour market. It is part of a larger project focusing on ‘Equal opportunities in the labour market for people aged 50+’.

The report was based on a comprehensive research study combining quantitative and qualitative methods. Responses from four groups were analysed – people aged between 45 and 69 (3,200 respondents), employers, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and employment and social assistance institutions.

People aged between 45 and 49 were included in the sample because although the project focuses on the promotion of economic activity among people over 50, it is intended to provide the basis for effective measures to tackle potential employment problems among this age group. So the aim is also to strengthen the labour market position of economically active people who are approaching the age of 50.

Activity rate of older workers

The study showed low activity rates among both men and women. Of the respondents aged 45 to 69, half of the women (49.7%) and a third of men (34.9%) were not economically active. Among those aged 45 to 49, 19.6% of women and 14.6% of men were not economically active.

Economic activity is significantly lower among women aged 50 to 59, and among men aged 50 to 64. Figures revealed that roughly one in three were inactive – 35.4% of women and 32.9% men. Just over half (54.1% of women and 58.6% of men) are employed (Table 1).

Respondents gave two main reasons for inactivity. The first (25.2% of respondents) was that they were receiving pension benefits, including early retirement or pre-retirement benefits. The second (11.2%) was receipt of disability pension because of incapacity for work. Just over 3% of those receiving pensions were still at work, although this percentage rose to 7.2% among men above the age of 65.

Table 1: Self-assessed economic activity (%)

Category

Economically active

Economically inactive

Working

Unemployed

Women

Men

Women

Men

Women

Men

Total

42.9

57.0

7.4

8.1

49.7

34.9

45–49

69.6

74.8

10.8

10.6

19.6

14.6

50–59/50–64

54.1

58.6

10.5

8.5

35.4

32.9

65–69

8.4

9.8

0.3*

0.2*

91.3

90.0

Source: Kryńska, Krzyszkowski, Urbaniak and Wiktorowicz, 2013, p. 67

Most of the people aged 45 and above work for small companies employing between 10 and 49 people (38%) and medium-sized companies (26%). Many work in micro-enterprises (18%). More men than women work away from their homes – 44% of men work away, compared with 24% of women. Men are also more willing to take a job away from home or abroad.

Hiring of older employees

Employers were asked what they thought would happen if one of their current employees over the age of 45 lost their job. They were asked if they thought re-employment would be possible. The study showed 28.6% said this would ‘definitely not be possible’ while 22.4% considered it ‘definitely possible’. Respondents from micro-enterprises were the most optimistic and respondents from the largest companies (250 or more employees) the least optimistic.

Figures showed 33% of companies surveyed took on workers over the age of 45 in 2011. This means only 4.4% of the companies who hired people did not recruit employees aged over 45. The largest companies were more likely to recruit people aged 45 or over. However, the Polish labour market is dominated by companies employing no more than 49 employees.

Among companies which had reduced staff numbers, 33.1% of those made redundant were over 45, and 35.8% were over 50. Over half (54.5%) of companies said they had not hired any women over the age of 45.

Table 2: Employers who recruited new workers aged 45/50 or over in 2011 (%)
 

Total

Sector

Number of people employed in the company

Public

Private

0–9

10–49

50–249

250+

Organisations which recruited from the external labour market

37.4

48.0

37.0

35.7

64.4

83.0

94.1

Organisations which recruited workers aged 45 or over as a percentage of the total of newly employed

33.0

38.5

32.8

31.6

41.4

67.8

73.9

 

The average share in the total number of newly hired employees

Percentage of women aged 45 or over

29.7

31.5

29.6

31.2

19.6

17.8

29.7

Source: Kryńska, Krzyszkowski, Urbaniak and Wiktorowicza, 2013, p. 128

Commentary

The report provides a basis for the development of measures to increase labour market activity among older workers. It is a part of a government strategy to counteract the consequences of a potential demographic crisis caused by an ageing labour force and increasing life expectancy. It is an important issue in Poland because of the recent increases in the national retirement age to 67 for both men and women (PL1201019I).

Reference

Kryńska, E., Krzyszkowski, J., Urbaniak, B. and Wiktorowicz, J. (eds.) (2013), Diagnosis of the current situation of women and men aged 50+ on the labour market in Poland, University of Łódź, Łódź.

Marianna Zieleńska, Institute of Public Affairs, ISP

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