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C 14/50 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 16.1.


Opinion of the Economic and Social Committee on ‘Older workers’

(2001/C 14/12)

On 2 March 2000 the Economic and Social Committee decided, under Rule 23(3) of its Rules of
Procedure, to draw up an opinion on ‘Older workers’.

The Section for Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship, which was responsible for preparing the
Committee’s work on the subject, adopted its opinion on 3 October 2000. The rapporteur was Mr Dantin.

At its 376th plenary session of 19 October 2000 the Economic and Social Committee adopted the
following opinion by 97 votes in favour, one against and two abstentions.

1. Introduction conception of society lacking in solidarity, but in many cases
results in the loss of highly qualified staff and a consequent fall
in the overall level of competitiveness. Furthermore, the
Committee is of the view that if scientific progress now allows
1.1. The Lisbon European Council set the EU an ambitious
more time to enjoy life, by the same token, our society should
objective with regard to the employment rate, which was to
seek to organise itself so that we get more out of life for longer.
be raised ‘as close as possible to 70 % by 2010’ and 60 % for
women. This objective is justified for both social and economic
reasons. Indeed, employment provides the best protection
against social exclusion. It is also fundamental for financing The opinion begins by mentioning a series of key facts and
social protection. Failure to respond to this objective would figures, it then examines the reasons for the fall in the
put a brake on economic growth. employment rate among older workers, and concludes with a
discussion of possible solutions with a view to proposing a
Community approach drawing on the practices and experience
1.2. The gradual achievement of this objective will inevi- of various EU countries.
tably present the majority of countries with the particular
challenge of raising the employment rate among older workers,
which is falling in all the Member States among the 50-64 age
group. Reversing this trend will require Member States to
adapt their current policies, and in particular to introduce
structural reforms. 2. The facts

1.3. In this connection, point 4 of the Annex of the
Guidelines for Member States’ Employment Policies 2000 2.1. Over the last twenty years the distribution of work
confirms the need to introduce a policy aimed at extending over the course of a lifetime has undergone major upheavals.
active working life through appropriate measures ‘so that older
workers are also able to remain and participate actively in
working life’. 2.1.1. Young people enter the labour market later because
of longer periods spent in full-time education, training and
difficulties in finding suitable work (1).
1.4. This document will also examine the issue of early
retirement schemes and other arrangements for early departure
from the labour market, which the Committee has already 2.1.2. The employment rate among the total over 55 age
touched upon in some of its previous opinions. Indeed this group has fallen considerably in Europe and to a lesser extent
phenomenon has a critical influence on the employment rate across the Atlantic: in 1999 it was 37 % among the 55-64 age
of this age group. group in the European Union and 55 % in the USA (2).

1.5. The Committee feels that the issue of older workers is
of such importance that it warrants an own-initiative opinion
addressing the different aspects of the problem. With this (1) Opinion of the Economic and Social Committee on ‘Youth
opinion the Committee has also sought to stress the need for unemployment’, OJ C 18, 22.1.1996.
a positive approach to older workers, insofar as the way (2) Contribution by the European Commission to the Lisbon Social
they are currently treated not only reflects a discriminatory Affairs Council. Source Eurostat.
16.1.2001 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 14/51

Since the 1970s the employment rate has fallen continu- fall in the number of young people entering the labour
ously (1) and on a large scale, particularly between 1980 and market (6).
1985 (2). Indeed, between 1971 and 1999 the figure for the
male population fell by 47,4 % in France, 45,8 % in the
Netherlands, 39 % in Spain, 38,7 % in Germany, 30 % in
Ireland and more than 29 % in Portugal and the United 2.6. The question for the future is whether the European
Kingdom. It would probably be fair to speak of an individualis- Union, Member States and the social partners will be able to
ation of career paths. This does not however reflect greater cope with such a reduced labour force or whether companies
choice for the individual as early departure from the labour will have to either adapt the way they produce goods and
market is in general more often imposed rather than chosen. provide services to an older workforce which will have
The new flexibility at the end of a career is instead a reflection undergone continuous training and be in need of motivation,
of labour market pressures and the human resource strategies or rely on immigrant labour, or relocate certain operations to
of companies and public authorities in response to them (3). third countries. In any case, immigration and relocations
would only partially resolve the problem — but not the root
cause — of the lack of highly qualified labour. However this
discussion should include the need to improve the ability of
society to integrate an increasing number of young people,
2.2. The trend is therefore for working life to become
women and the unemployed (particularly the long-term unem-
shorter at both ends of the age spectrum and will henceforth
ployed) into working life. A genuine social dialogue should
be dominated by age groups situated at the middle of this
take place on these different strategies.

2.3. The 50-64 age group is of particular importance for
employment policy. According to Eurostat forecasts, at EU 3. Causes
level it will increase as a proportion of the total population
from 25 % in 1995 to 34,4 % in 2025. This increase will occur
much more quickly in the Scandinavian countries over the
3.1. The early departure of older workers from the labour
next decade (4). It should be pointed out that this figure is only market is largely the result of a combination of three essential
an average and that more extreme situations may also exist at factors: companies, employees and legal and agreement-based
the regional level or in certain employment areas.

2.4. This development is particularly worrying in the
context of the acute demographic ageing which Member States 3.2. Companies
will experience from the beginning of the third millennium
onwards (5).

3.2.1. In the context of continual and rapid changes to the
production system and manufacturing processes, and in a
2.5. In addition to the financial implications which this has continually evolving economy and market, companies must
for pension schemes, it raises the question of whether the adapt, evolve and restructure if they are to succeed in a global
workforce will be sufficient to ensure countries’ productive environment at the same time as striking a balance between
output. Demographic ageing can be expected to result in a social and economic concerns, as this is the only way of
relentless ageing of the workforce at the same time as labour ensuring company dynamism and growth. It follows that
becomes a scarce resource, without taking into account companies need room for manoeuvre and breathing space.
potential immigration. From a macro-economic perspective,
this situation will lead to pressure on wages, which is
inflationary. 3.2.2. This room for manoeuvre resides in the quantity and
quality of jobs, in particular those of older workers. This is
particularly the case with regard to the ‘social plans’ introduced
after restructuring operations.
2.5.1. In some Member States the average age of the active
population is 40 and sometimes slightly higher because of the

(6) Anne-Marie Guillemard, ‘Salariés vieillissants et marché du travail’,
in rapport de l’Observatoire européen des politiques de vieillesse et de
( 1) See tables 1 and 2, 2a and 2b. retraite, DG V, Bruxelles, January 1993; by the same author, ‘vers
( 2) See table 3. un nouveau contrat entre générations pour les retraites’. Anne-
( 3) Guillemard 1986; Casey et Laczko 1989. Marie Guillemard is a sociologist and lecturer at the university of
( 4) See table 4. Paris V — Sorbonne — and is a member of the French university
( 5) ‘The demographic situation in the EU and future prospects’. institute.
C 14/52 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 16.1.2001

3.2.3. Irrespective of these ‘social plans’, the introduction 3.3. Employees
of early retirement enables companies to replace older workers,
who they view as relatively unproductive and as having
obsolete skills, with younger and fewer workers. They view
this as helping to improve their competitiveness as well as 3.3.1. Much has been made of the pressure placed on
lightening their pay roll and rebalancing their age structure. employees to leave their jobs before the legal retirement age,
However, this situation reflects shortcomings in human even though they would have liked to continue working. This
resource management and above all an absence of forward- type of case exists but it would not be accurate to depict it as
looking management of employment and qualifications. One either the only type, or even the most common.
consequence is that companies sometimes deprive themselves
of know-how, making it more difficult to integrate young
people as a result of a reduced capacity to impart knowledge
and provide tutoring.
3.3.2. Only four out of ten employees would like to have
continued working (2). Indeed, the widespread desire to share
in a new and attractive distribution of the benefits of growth
However the following aspects cannot be ignored: must not be underestimated, as well as the weariness that
comes from doing an unrewarding, often repetitive and
extremely demanding job, sometimes for more than forty
— the difficulties experienced by certain employees in years, causing people to aspire to a different lifestyle. It is often
adapting to, and training for new technologically with the feeling of having already ‘contributed a lot’ that
advanced work processes. Special attention must be paid voluntary retirement is taken up. From this perspective it
to this problem as it can ultimately result in exclusion; would be useful to know what new conditions would be
needed to reverse this way of thinking. The Commission could
carry out a study on this.
— the lack of enthusiasm in some quarters, often among
employees with very few or no skills, either because
they do not feel qualified on account of their lack of
educational achievement, or because they do not feel any Under the present conditions it can be said that a convergence
need as retirement is imminent. of interests often exists between the employee and his com-
pany, in other words an objective alliance which is generally
carried over into the collective agreements reached by the
social partners at different negotiating levels, including that of
3.2.4. There is already a category of middle-aged employees companies and public institutions.
in companies who are considered to have no future and who
employers are hesitant to promote or train. It is paradoxical
that the 40-60 age group, which makes up the baby-boomer
generation, will account for the majority of the active popu- 3.3.3. Furthermore, from a psychological perspective,
lation from 2001 onwards. steeped in corporate behaviour, the older or ageing worker
implicitly feels that he is no longer viewed in a privileged way
as someone approaching the age at which you have the
legitimate right to retire and relax. Instead he has become
3.2.5. At the same time, the large increase in people leaving someone defined as ‘incapable’ of working or as ‘unemploy-
the labour market early has contributed to the devaluing of able’. When nearly half of those drawing their pension have
ageing workers on the labour market. The lowering of age left work before retirement age on the grounds of ‘invalidity’,
thresholds with a view to facilitating early departure from the as in certain European Union countries, the subsequent time
labour market has had a major impact on these workers as it spent in inactivity tends to be viewed not as time during which
has changed, in the mind of employers, the age at which you are entitled to take things easy, but as the inability to
workers may be considered to be ‘too old’. Indeed, there is work. This perception of age and its labelling effects cannot
increasing evidence of discrimination against older workers at help but have an behavioural impact in that it promotes the
the recruitment stage in all European countries. The most development — in the mind of the employee and in practice
general indication at European Union level has been provided — of a feeling of marginalisation within the company, the
by Eurobarometer studies carried out during the European labour market and society itself.
Year of the Elderly and of Solidarity between Generations: a
survey of the general public which asked whether ageing
workers were discriminated against in recruitment procedures
revealed that four out of five people claimed that discrimi- 3.3.4. To this should be added the so-called generational
nation did actually take place (1). ‘shock’ or ‘clash’ of cultures, distanced by time and age.

(1) European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working
Conditions (1997), ‘Combating age barriers in employment’, (2) ‘Age and Attitudes — Main Results from a Eurobarometer Survey’,
p. 23. Commission of the EC, 1993.
16.1.2001 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 14/53

As a result of the economic crisis of the 1980s and 1990s Some have insisted on the role of social protection
many companies and public services introduced a partial or and in particular public and private pension schemes, as well
often total freeze on recruitment and staff turnover, leading to as mechanisms guaranteeing replacement income in the event
a shift in the middle section of their age pyramid. of unemployment or an early end to working life. They have
demonstrated that these schemes contained incentives or
disincentives to working beyond a certain age and that
individual cases of early retirement needed to be understood
When, as a result of economic recovery, recruitment has taken against this background (1).
off again, it tends to be targeted primarily at younger people
who represent the future in the eyes of the company. This
leads to older workers feeling devalued and under-appreciated
within the company. In addition, they may come into conflict Other work has focused on the decisive role of the
with younger generations over their relationship to work, their labour market and of corporate behaviour to interpret the
working methods, and their view of work organisation, as they trend towards early departure from the labour market (2).
feel these different attitudes call into question the way they
have worked for decades. This can only fuel and increase their
desire to leave the labour market early.
3.4.2. If these two approaches are important to the analysis
it is not appropriate to set them in diametrical opposition to
each other or to say that one precludes the other. On the
contrary they are intimately linked.
3.3.5 On the other hand, four out of ten employees would
have liked to continue working. In most cases, but not
all, their profile reflects one or several of the following
characteristics: Social protection or its alternatives, whether legally prescribed
or agreement based in nature, are only means at the disposal
of the labour market for alleviating the social costs in terms of
— they have a high-level skill which makes their work long-term unemployment and exclusion. In other words, early
interesting, if not fascinating and rewarding, sometimes retirement has been used as an instrument of ‘employment
making it into more of a hobby. Their job is their pastime policy’ or more precisely as an instrument to fight unemploy-
as well as their bread and butter (researchers, engineers, ment. In many Member States it is clear that these instruments
other highly qualified staff, etc.). For them stopping work have often become, and are considered by companies, as a
comes as an unwelcome blow; human resource management tool and by employees as a
social benefit and entitlement.

— they hold a senior position within the company to which
they feel their social status is linked, and which is
something they wish to hold on to;
4. Possible solutions

— they have not prepared themselves for ‘inactivity’ and
the termination of their working life makes them feel
worthless and confronts them with a seemingly unfillable 4.1. Part of the solution to readjusting the balance between
void of inactivity; active and inactive workers and maintaining an optimally sized
workforce with regard to the demographic forecasts for the
European Union consists in raising the number of employees
— they still have family dependants (children or older people over the age of 55 in work. Of course this must strike a
in their care, unpaid loans, divorce-related costs, etc.) and desirable balance between work and retirement, and leisure
cannot afford even a minimal fall in their income; time and work, as valued under the European social model.

— they are not yet entitled to draw a full pension.
4.2. Such a step must be planned on a medium-term basis
by introducing a policy of maintaining life-long employability
— ... and retraining employees — women as well as men — over
the age of 40. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine a spontaneously
harmonious scenario, in which the reversal of labour market
trends would be sufficient to convince companies to retain
their older workers and to decide to ‘teach an old dog new
3.4. Legal and agreement-based provisions

3.4.1. Most research on reducing working life has generally (1) Quinn et al. 1990; Quinn et Burkhauser 1990.
prioritised two factors. (2) Standing, 1986; Sorensen, 1989.
C 14/54 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 16.1.2001

4.2.1. In addition to the practical measures which need to into account as soon as employees enter the labour market.
be taken, it is essential for perceptions to change and for Rigorous forward-looking management of jobs and qualifi-
everything possible to be done to bring about a change in cations and, more generally, effective human resource manage-
attitudes and to raise awareness among both companies and ment are therefore essential.
employees. Working beyond the age of 55 must be viewed as
rewarding by employees, while companies and public services
must be aware of the benefits which older workers can bring
(experience, know-how, knowledge, etc.). 4.3.3. As demonstrated by the Dublin-based Foundation’s
study, a policy for age-groups must take the five following
factors into account:
4.2.2. The Committee therefore urges the Commission to
promote, in cooperation with the Member States, an extensive — recruitment and retirement;
information and enlightenment campaign to help generate a
positive attitude to the role played by older workers in
companies and the public services. — vocational training, further training and promotion;

An examination of their participation in voluntary work, — the flexible organisation of work;
NGOs and local life after they have taken up early retirement,
provides a direct demonstration of their dynamism, initiative
— ergonomics and the definition of tasks;
and effectiveness.

— a change of attitudes within companies.
4.3. It is particularly instructive and useful to be able to
draw lessons from the practices and experience of the Member
States. Thus, raising the employment rate among older workers 4.3.4. The following initiatives made the greatest
has been the aim of a series of initiatives by governments impression on the Committee:
and/or the social partners, in particular in Austria, Belgium,
Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Ireland.
— the Belgian cross-sectoral agreement which encourages
additional vocational training by targeting groups with
Furthermore, a study by the European Foundation for the poor employment prospects;
Improvement of Living and Working Conditions has identified
a whole range of interesting examples among German, Belgian,
British, French, Greek, Italian and Dutch companies (1). — public authority encouragement of training measures
aimed at certain target groups through the provision of
additional fiscal incentives, such as the tax reductions for
training measures in the Netherlands and those proposed
The Committee has drawn the following lessons from these by the social partners in Austria;
different analyses:

— giving older workers responsibility for training their
younger colleagues and/or apprentices;
4.3.1. A change in thinking and attitudes is necessary. It is
not enough to prohibit age limits in job adverts if recruitment
policies do not follow suit. If this change in attitudes is to — part-time work opportunities, more flexible career breaks
extend to society as a whole, it must not occur just among a or gradual early retirement (Germany, Finland, Belgium,
single group, but among all public authorities, employers and France);

— trade-offs between working time reductions and pay
increases (as in some Swedish sectoral agreements);
4.3.2. The adoption of a policy for age-groups over 45-50
does not go far enough. As stated by the Belgian ‘Conseil
supérieur de l’emploi’ (higher employment council), a policy — a reduction in employer contributions for older workers
which seeks to address the problem of older workers comes or for the recruitment of older job applicants;
too late if it is only applied to this category of workers. Instead
what is needed is a human resource policy which takes age
— the possibility for employees to open a ‘skills account’
which qualifies for a tax reduction relative to the amount
deposited. These savings, to which the employer con-
tributes an equal amount, allow the employee to take a
(1) European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working long period of study leave in order to undergo additional
Conditions (1997), ‘Combating age barriers in employment’. training without loss of income (Sweden).
16.1.2001 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 14/55

4.3.5. The Committee examined whether salary levels and — total or partial early retirement offset by the recruitment
profiles, which are often predetermined, made the jobs of older of a corresponding number of job-seekers, since it is also
workers more precarious (see 3.2.3). A recurring feature is that true that it is better to have one person retired than to
an older worker is paid more than a younger counterpart keep another unemployed with no prospects of inte-
with the same qualifications (seniority bonuses, age-related gration into working life.
promotion, etc.). In many Member States this factor appears
to affect both their chances of being recruited and of keeping
their jobs. Without being certain of anything, or having any Indeed, if action must be taken to address the problem of
definitive positions or guidelines on this issue and without demographic change and the predicted reduction in the size of
having thought further ahead, the Committee nevertheless the workforce, it must be ensured that the chosen remedy does
feels that this issue must not be ignored or avoided, no matter not actually make matters worse, increasing exclusion and
how difficult and sensitive it may be to address. On the basis thereby reducing social cohesion.
of its investigations, it recommends drawing up a list of the
advantages and disadvantages of ultimately reversing pay
scales, so that salaries would increase at a faster rate at the 4.5. Finally, with a view to obtaining results over the
beginning of a career, with more gradual increases later on. Of medium-term, the instrument which would help to ensure
course, even though this list is mainly geared towards the case effective policy in this area needs to be identified.
of older workers, it would not be possible to accept the
negative consequences that might ensue with regard to all or
some of the components of an equitable wage policy and 4.5.1. As the circumstances of companies in all Member
career progression. States are highly diverse, it is clear that any effective solution
needs to be built on an in-depth knowledge of the real situation
as well as implementation as close as possible to the grass-
roots level.
4.3.6. With particular regard to women, it is worth stressing
that a shortage of support services — particularly care services
for family members and child care for young children — leads From this perspective, and irrespective of the
many between the ages of 50 and 60 to give up work. approach or instrument chosen by the EU, it is essential to
consult the social partners and to take their views into account.
This is the only way of ensuring that the choices made are
implemented effectively.
4.4. In the majority of countries the question of how early
retirement schemes will evolve is proving to be a particularly
difficult issue. 4.5.2. The Committee feels that there are four different
types of instrument — with varying degrees of effectiveness
— which can help to get the ball rolling at the EU level:
However numerous studies emphasise the need to raise the
age of early retirement. It is evident that a debate on this — the dialogue between the European social partners;
subject is becoming inevitable. As soon as it can no longer be
put off, the Committee feels that the issue must be situated — a targeted and thought-provoking ‘employment guideline’
within a broader context. As stressed by the Committee in its specifically for this problem;
opinion on A Concerted Strategy for Modernising Social
Protection, ‘for both social and economic reasons, flexible — a voluntary code of conduct;
pension policies should be developed as an alternative to
early retirement and lifelong learning programmes should be
— a directive.
established in order to encourage workers to retrain in good
time and find new areas of employment(1)’. The European social partners could themselves, or
at the request of the Commission, initiate a social dialogue on
The Committee is of the view that two sets of examples of this subject leading to an exchange of views, an opinion,
early retirement are, however, worth consideration, and merit recommendations or any other form of conclusions which
attention and caution: they might consider to be useful. The results of this dialogue
could, for example, be fleshed out if necessary and used to
produce a ‘voluntary code of good practice’. Above all they
— early retirement in cases of large restructuring operations, could contribute to the drawing up of precise and thought-
since it is true that a ‘young’ pensioner is preferable to a provoking employment guidelines, which the Committee feels
long-term unemployed person with no prospect of are the most appropriate instrument for tackling this problem.
finding a job again; The advantage of this approach is that it would result in
guidelines and measures which would be the synthesis or
consensus of the positions of the main actors responsible for
implementation on the ground at company level. Furthermore,
these players are in the best position to assess the feasibility of
(1) OJ C 177, 26.4.2000. the approaches taken.
C 14/56 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 16.1.2001 A targeted and thought-provoking employment — current company and employee practice, as well as
guideline could have the advantage of allowing more diverse Member States’ legal and agreement-based provisions,
forms of implementation, giving operational responsibility to
the Member States, but within a commonly defined framework. the Committee considers that the Council’s objective can only
However, in order to be effective, such an approach should be reached if measures are taken by the European Union, the
give a large share of the initiative to the social partners. In any Member States and the social partners with a view to raising
case, and on a more general level, they should be involved in the employment rate among older workers.
drawing up and implementing the national action plans on
employment and older workers. Failure to do so would be a source of concern, as the workforce
will diminish, putting a brake on growth, with implications
for employment, and the purchasing power of both current A voluntary code of conduct based on good and future pensioners.
practice and adopted by the European Union would enable
companies to adopt a flexible approach suited to their 5.3. The first step must be to bring about a change in
circumstances. attitudes and to raise awareness among companies and
employees. Working beyond the age of 55 must be viewed as
rewarding for the employee and valuable for companies. The Committee does not feel that priority should Without such a collective awareness, any practical measures
be given to a directive initiated by and under the sole which are adopted will not have an optimal impact.
responsibility of the Commission. Indeed this could be per-
ceived as being an over-generalized response to a diverse The Committee therefore urges the Commission to promote,
situation, even if it only defined a framework; above all it could in cooperation with the Member States, an awareness-raising,
be perceived as being too far-removed from the operators information and enlightenment campaign targeted at the main
responsible for its implementation. stakeholders as well as society in general, in order to help
bring about a positive perception of the role which older
workers can play in companies and the public services.
4.6. Whichever instrument is chosen, the Committee would
like the Commission to examine to what extent the ESF could 5.4. In point 4 of this opinion the Committee makes a
contribute financially to the measures which will have to be series of practical suggestions based either on Member States’
taken (1). best practice, either legislative or agreement-based in nature,
or on its own reflections and investigations, and also refers to
the Dublin Foundation’s proposals which it feels are the most
5. Conclusions important.
The aim of these suggestions is to make a positive contribution
5.1. The Committee approves the decision by the Lisbon to the debate and to play a role in the directions and decisions
European Council to raise employment ‘as close as possible to which the social partners, the Council and Member States will
70 % by 2010’. have to take.

5.5. With regard to the appropriate instrument at the
5.2. Having regard to the: European Union level, the Committee does not feel that a
directive would be the most suitable choice.
— demographic problems with which the European Union
will eventually be faced; It recommends that the social partners — either at their own-
initiative or at the request of the Commission — initiate a
— the current employment rate among the 55-64 age group, social dialogue on this subject leading to an exchange of
which is in continual decline everywhere; views, an opinion, recommendations or any other form of
conclusions which they might consider to be useful. The
— the constant growth of this age group, both in terms of results of this dialogue could be fleshed out if necessary and
total numbers and in relation to other age groups; used to draw up a ‘voluntary code of good practice’. Above all
they could contribute to the drawing up of precise and
thought-provoking employment guidelines, which the Com-
(1) European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working mittee feels are the most appropriate instrument for tackling
Conditions (1997), ‘Combating age barriers in employment’. this issue.

Brussels, 19 October 2000.

The President
of the Economic and Social Committee
16.1.2001 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 14/57


to the Opinion of the Economic and Social Committee

Table 1 — Employment rates among the male population (55-64 age group) in 1986 (*) and 1997

(*) Source: Eurostat study of the working population, excluding Austria, Sweden and Finland.
The figures for the first reference year for these three Member states are based on national studies for 1985.
C 14/58 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 16.1.2001

Table 2 — Employment activity rates for men 55-64 years old (a) in 12 countries: 1971-1997

Country 1971 1975 1980 1985 1987 1989 1991 1993 1995 1996 1997 Variation

United States 77,3 71,4 68,8 64,4 64,5 64,3 63,9 63,1 63,6 64,7 65,5 –15,3
France 73,0 67,1 65,3 46,7 43,9 43,3 42,0 40,3 38,7 38,6 38,4 –47,4

Germany (b) 77,1 66,7 64,1 53,6 54,1 51,7 49,9 48,0 48,0 48,0 47,3 –38,7
Netherlands 79,3 69,9 61,0 44,2 44,7 44,2 41,8 40,5 41,0 40,7 43,0 –45,8

Sweden 82,8 80,7 77,5 73,2 73,4 73,9 73,7 65,9 64,4 66,0 64,7 –22,0
United Kingdom 82,9 82,0 73,9 59,4 58,1 61,6 61,5 55,9 56,0 57,0 58,6 –29,3

Ireland 82,4 76,1 72,2 64,7 62,7 59,9 60,2 59,1 59,1 58,7 57,8 –30,0
Portugal 82,1 77,1 74,8 64,9 62,1 63,9 66,5 59,9 59,1 58,5 58,2 –29,1

Spain 82,7 76,7 71,5 59,1 57,0 56,7 56,2 51,6 48,0 49,9 50,5 –39,0
Canada 78,8 76,3 72,7 64,3 61,9 61,9 57,3 55,0 54,0 54,7 56,1 –29,0

Japan 85,3 83,2 82,2 78,9 78,2 79,2 82,0 82,1 80,8 80,6 80,9 –5,16
Australia — — — –56,0 56,3 58,93 54,5 50,7 55,3 54,4 54,3 —

Notes: a) Cross-sectional data are hard to interpret for women. They generally suggest stable or slightly rising rates throughout the period. But this
global result covers two contradictory trends that have affected women: the trend of women massively entering the labour market, which
started at different dates depending on the country; and the early exit trend. When cohort analyses could be made, they were able to
disentangle these trends. They proved that women, like men, have had to retire early even though this trend has been hidden by their massive
entry in the labour market
b) Reunified Germany as of 1991.
Source: OECD data plus our own calculations.
16.1.2001 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 14/59

Table 2a — Employment rates by age group among men over 55 in 12 Member States of the EU


55-59 1983 60,9 77,4 60,3 77,6 76,4 76,5 71,1 52,5 65,3 74,7 79,1 75,8
1986 54,2 78,3 57,3 73,9 73,7 71,6 67,2 56,5 — 72,1 67,9 73,3
1988 48,1 78,8 56,3 72,2 72,4 69,9 66,4 54,6 63,4 69,9 66,6 72,6
1990 48,4 81,6 56,2 73,9 70,7 69,6 66,4 62,8 63,6 73,5 69,4 74,9
1992 48,7 75,7 58,1 67,2 70,8 66,7 63,9 53,3 60,9 68,8 66,7 69,5
1994 48,6 75,1 55,9 63,9 71,0 67,8 59,3 51,3 59,3 68,9 60,7 67,3
60-64 1983 27,4 48,3 28,2 38,3 58,2 63,3 35,9 19,5 34,2 62,8 60,4 52,5
1986 22,4 52,6 22,0 30,8 51,7 57,3 36,7 16,1 — 53,5 45,6 48,1
1988 19,4 51,7 19,4 31,7 49,2 55,0 36,4 18,0 25,1 53,7 44,0 49,1
1990 18,9 48,6 16,0 32,9 45,5 50,4 34,5 22,8 21,7 54,2 43,2 49,4
1992 20,2 45,8 13,5 28,5 45,9 52,1 33,1 15,7 21,4 55,4 43,0 47,5
1994 17,3 40,9 12,5 26,1 45,5 50,6 29,6 15,1 21,0 52,2 38,0 45,1

55-64 1983 47,7 63,1 46,0 60,2 68,8 70,3 55,3 38,0 50,5 — — 64,3
1986 38,8 65,8 40,6 55,4 64,0 64,6 52,7 39,6 — 63,2 57,5 61,1
1988 34,4 65,5 38,7 54,1 61,6 62,7 52,0 39,7 44,1 62,2 55,9 61,1
1990 34,3 65,6 37,0 54,3 58,4 60,2 50,9 42,9 44,0 64,6 56,9 63,3
1992 34,7 61,5 35,9 49,5 58,6 59,8 48,9 40,0 42,2 62,0 55,0 58,7
65-69 1983 5,1 26,4 7,9 10,2 34,1 31,6 15,0 10,2 5,3 — 20,7 13,0
1986 5,5 26,0 7,1 8,5 26,8 28,3 15,5 4,5 — 30,3 10,9 11,7
1988 4,2 25,9 6,1 7,4 24,1 26,8 13,8 4,2 10,0 30,6 7,5 11,3
1990 3,3 27,4 5,1 8,6 21,4 25,7 12,8 5,5 9,7 31,5 7,4 13,5
1992 3,9 26,0 5,2 6,9 21,2 25,7 12,0 4,3 11,1 28,5 7,0 14,1
1994 2,3 3,8 2,5 4,3 11,7 16,0 6,2 2,1 5,8 20,6 2,9 7,3

Source: Guillemard 1993, Table 3.2, Eurostat study of the labour force 1992 (1994), Table 6: Eurostat study of the
labour force, unpublished.
C 14/60 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 16.1.2001

Table 2b — Employment rates by age group among women over 50 in 12 Member States of the EU


50-54 1983 26,1 63,8 52,7 45,2 35,6 24,6 29,7 20,1 25,9 — — 60,8
1986 26,5 68,1 53,2 47,4 38,1 23,3 31,2 25,1 — 42,9 23,7 62,1
1988 25,8 72,6 53,7 47,9 37,9 24,3 30,8 24,0 33,3 45,9 24,7 62,0
1990 28,6 72,9 55,3 53,8 36,3 25,5 31,7 26,9 36,0 47,6 25,5 65,2
1992 31,8 74,1 57,1 59,5 35,1 27,9 33,4 30,6 39,9 51,9 28,7 65,7
55-59 1983 15,7 50,2 37,2 37,5 29,5 20,6 19,5 17,9 17,2 — — 47,4
1986 16,7 57,3 36,4 35,9 29,9 18,6 19,9 19,0 — 33,5 21,0 48,6
1988 14,6 55,9 37,4 36,3 31,4 19,2 20,4 17,1 21,7 36,3 21,0 49,1
1990 14,7 57,6 37,6 38,7 28,0 20,6 19,3 18,0 22,9 37,9 21,5 51,9
1992 17,2 61,4 38,0 36,1 26,0 21,3 18,8 21,0 25,1 42,2 21,4 52,1
1994 20,4 57,1 38,8 37,6 26,5 23,4 18,6 19,0 27,4 41,4 20,8 51,7

60-64 1983 6,0 28,0 16,6 12,1 19,9 16,5 9,0 10,2 7,7 — — 19,7
1986 4,2 29,2 14,7 10,5 20,9 12,1 9,5 7,5 — 23,6 14,8 18,0
1988 3,8 22,9 14,2 10,3 22,0 11,8 9,9 7,4 7,2 26,0 15,8 18,6
1990 4,0 26,9 11,8 11,6 19,7 13,8 10,0 9,5 8,3 23,7 14,6 21,8
1992 5,0 24,6 11,3 9,2 17,4 12,6 8,6 9,8 6,3 27,1 15,3 22,8
1994 4,9 20,8 11,3 8,4 18,5 13,6 8,0 7,5 7,2 24,9 15,0 24,7

Source: Guillemard 1993, Table 3.2, Eurostat study of the labour force 1992 (1994), Table 6: Eurostat study of the
labour force, unpublished.
16.1.2001 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 14/61

Table 3 — A comparison of employment rates for men aged 55-64

Source: OECD, Labour force survey (1992).
C 14/62 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 16.1.2001

Table 4 — The 50-64 age group as a proportion of the population

Source: Eurostat, Demographic estimates 1997 (basic scenario).