Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ireland: Older Workers Faring Better in Recession in Both North and South

According to the Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland (CARDI), older people are better represented in the workforce in Ireland, North and South, than in the past and have been less affected by unemployment during the recession than their younger counterparts. This information was presented at a seminar on "Living Longer, Working Longer" at which CARDI also explored issues such as the impact of an aging population on Ireland’s workforce, North and South; the reasons why some people retire early and others continue working; and the urgent need for research on older people’s experiences in the workforce in light of the fact that the retirement age is set to rise.

On the statistical front, the number of workers aged 55 or older rose by 73% in the Republic of Ireland between 1998 and 2008 (up 120,000) and by 50% in Northern Ireland (up 35,000). In particular, older women have benefited, with the female labour force participation rate at age 55-59 jumping in the Republic of Ireland by a full 20 percentage points, from 30% to 50%, and for women aged 60-64 increasing from 17% to 33%.
“The pension age in both the Republic of Ireland will rise to 66 in 2014 and Northern Ireland in 2016 and later to 68,” said [Paul McGill, Strategic Research Officer with CARDI]. “At the same time, the numbers of older people in Ireland as a whole are steadily increasing: by 2041, it is estimated there will be 1.89 million people aged 65 and over. In light of this, government and employers need to make provisions now to accommodate older workers."
CARDI cited a number of reasons why older people are better represented in Northern Ireland’s current workforce than they were in the past, including:
  • employers having greater difficulty offering pension top-ups to encourage early retirement;
  • the outlawing of discrimination against older workers is beginning to have an effect;
  • older people may have been worried by increases in food and fuel prices during the economic boom and, as a result, decided to hold on to their jobs for longer; and
  • Poor private pension provision.
Source: Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland News (November 10, 2010)

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