Retirement & Financial Planning Report

Older workers have “reasonably good prospects for extending their careers” says a new report from the Center for Retirement Research, which added that a new survey of employers regarding attitudes toward having older workers paint a more optimistic picture than a similar study in 2006.

“Although older workers are seen as more costly, they are also seen as more productive. Overall, the overwhelming majority of employers said older workers were “as attractive” or “more attractive” than younger workers,” it said. An attraction to employers, it says, is that “while older workers are roughly equal to their younger counterparts in terms of the human capital that they bring to a job, they also have decades of experience . . . Older workers also have networks and contacts that allow them to quickly reach out to the people needed to get a job done.”

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However, “many other surveys have recorded similar positive evaluations of older workers’ productivity, yet numerous studies have documented discrimination against older workers. It will not always be easy for older workers to extend their working careers.”

The report notes that increasing numbers of workers want to do just that: over the last three decades, the share planning to work at least to age 65 has more than doubled to 45 percent.

That’s because a widely used prescription for boosting retirement security is to work longer and save more before retirement while drawing down savings over fewer years after it. However, it adds that two in five persons end up retiring earlier than they had expected.

“To the extent that these premature retirements reflect employer resistance to older workers, the prescription to work longer will be hard to achieve. Employer resistance could result from general misperceptions about older workers’ abilities or concern that their costs may outweigh their productivity well before they plan to retire. Such uncertainty may lead employers to circumvent rules against age discrimination by devising policies that avoid and shed older workers,” it says.

In the most recent government-wide survey of “prohibited personnel practices,” age discrimination followed only race and sex discrimination as the most commonly reported type of bias seen or personally experienced; those three were close in size and well above any other form of discrimination.

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