Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Redistributing Work in Aging Europe

Scientists of the Rostock Center for the Study of Demographic Change show in an article published in "Science" (Vol. 313, Edition 5782) that the total number of hours worked will be reduced soon, should the low participation of the elderly in the labor market continue. To keep the ratio of workers to non-workers and the number of hours worked per capita at current levels, work needs to be distributed more evenly over the ages of life and it needs to become more flexible.

According to James W. Vaupel, Executive Director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR), and Elke Loichinger, demographic change and the ensuing consequences for the labor market and macroeconomic development are challenging society and politics. Taking Germany as an example, they show that as early as in 20 years from now, the hours worked per capita will be reduced by 8 percent, should the few young continue to work a lot and the many elderly continue to work a little.
Future generations may wonder about the way we concentrate learning in the first phase of life, work in the middle of life, and leisure in the later years, when our children no longer need us, Vaupel and Loichinger point out. The rigid patterns of biographies and the low employment rates at older ages are no longer sustainable in the face of demographic change. "The 20th century was a century of redistribution of income; the 21st century will be a century of redistribution of work", says James W. Vaupel.
Source: Max Planck Society Press Release (June 30, 2006)

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