Ageing, health and working conditions

Ageing, health and working conditions

The two seemingly unrelated trends of population ageing and globalisation, have created new challenges for both firms and policy-makers. On the one hand, the larger retired population created by both demographic trends and increased life expectancy has put substantial pressure on the sustainability of state and occupational pension schemes, and also increased the cost of providing public health services. On the other, in a context of increasing competition in domestic and international markets, firms have sought productivity gains and cost reductions through more efficient human resource practices, down-sizing and outsourcing. The latter trends are not without consequences for whole sections of the workforce. Among these is the possible impact on the current and future health of present employees. Such practices could also have a detrimental effect on the ability of older workers to obtain and retain jobs in a context where employers are continually seeking efficiency improvements. For example, being in an occupation where there are negative amenities such as long working hours, physically demanding tasks or hazardous working conditions means that prolonging working life may be detrimental to the health status of older workers. As a result of the combined effect of population ageing and globalization various links have emerged between working conditions, health and the labour market situation of older workers.

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