Monday, January 16, 2012

Europe: Active Aging Year Gets off to Active Start

For Europe, 2012 is "European year of active ageing and solidarity between generations," and it has gotten off to an active start. The opening conference begins January 18, including a presentation by Danish EU Presidency, Eurofound's Donald Storrie, on "Senior citizens on the labour market--the need and potential of reforms."

The European Commission released a Eurobarometer showing that 71% of Europeans are aware that Europe's population is getting older, but only 42% are concerned about this development. Among other things, the Eurobaromter shows that who is considered "young" and "old" varies significantly across countries. Thus, for example, in Malta, Portugal and Sweden, people under 37 years are considered young, while in Cyprus and Greece people are considered young up to the age of 50.
In terms of having a job, only one in three Europeans agrees with the idea that the official retirement age will have to be increased by 2030, even though this is now a clear policy priority in many Member States. However, there is strong support (61%) for the idea that people should be allowed to continue working once they have reached the official retirement age. 53% reject the idea of a compulsory retirement age, but there are huge differences across Member States.
Earlier, on January 9, Eurofound research on "Impact of the recession on age management policies" was published. Authored by Chris van Stolk, the research explores the age management practices of companies in light of restructuring undergone during the recession, looking at policy in relation to the retention of older workers (aged 50 or more) in employment at national and establishment levels in nine European Union states. Among its conclusions:
Countries and establishments consider and discuss age management in different ways. All countries have policies that perform this function in some way, but the comprehensiveness of policies varies. The trajectory of reform differs between countries as does the urgency to target initiatives at older workers. In some cases and especially during the recession, older workers
were often not seen as priority groups. There was greater concern about the employability of younger workers. Given that the crisis affected younger workers disproportionately compared to other age groups, there were often good reasons to prioritise this group rather than older workers.
Source: Eurofound European Year 2012 Updates (January 13, 2012)

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