The old aren't stealing our jobs

Baby boomers just as harmless as they look.

As people live longer and pension plans are put under pressure, there's been a fairly pervasive thought that younger workers are getting squeezed out by an ageing workforce, holding onto their jobs with spindly arthritic fingers that just refuse to snap.

But it turns out this view is not entirely correct. It turns out that the opposite is correct. After looking at jobs data recorded between 1977 and 2011, the Centre for Retirement Research found, in fact, that "greater employment of older persons leads to better outcomes for the young in the form of reduced unemployment, increased employment and a higher wage”.

So filling up jobs with the elderly actually helps younger people? How is this possible? Well, it's only surprising if you agree with the "lump of labour" theory - the idea that there's only so much work to go around. According to the report however, evidence for this theory is dwindling.

It said: “Employers already have reservations about older workers, so adding the false argument that retaining older workers hurts younger ones could impede the ability of older workers to remain in the labor force. Therefore, public discourse will be improved by putting the lump-of-labor theory to rest. The theory may sound plausible, but the data do not support it.”

The widely touted tussle between generation Y and the baby boomers may be drawing to an end.

Looks harmless, is in fact harmless. Photograph, Getty Images

Martha Gill writes the weekly Irrational Animals column. You can follow her on Twitter here: @Martha_Gill.

Show Hide image

The NS Podcast #112: Going Underground

Are women-only carriages the way forward?

This week, we explain why we're backing Tessa Jowell as Labour's candidate for London mayor, talk women-only carriages on the tube, and speak to Tom Shone about Woody Allen. (Caroline Crampton, Barbara Speed, John Elledge, Stephen Bush, George Eaton).

You can subscribe to the podcast through iTunes here or with this RSS feed: https://audioboo.fm/channels/1814670.rss, or listen using the player below.

Want to give us feedback on our podcast, or have an idea for something we should cover? Visit newstatesman.com/podcast for more details and how to contact us.