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.

Photo: Getty
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The big problem for the NHS? Local government cuts

Even a U-Turn on planned cuts to the service itself will still leave the NHS under heavy pressure. 

38Degrees has uncovered a series of grisly plans for the NHS over the coming years. Among the highlights: severe cuts to frontline services at the Midland Metropolitan Hospital, including but limited to the closure of its Accident and Emergency department. Elsewhere, one of three hospitals in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are to be shuttered, while there will be cuts to acute services in Suffolk and North East Essex.

These cuts come despite an additional £8bn annual cash injection into the NHS, characterised as the bare minimum needed by Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England.

The cuts are outlined in draft sustainability and transformation plans (STP) that will be approved in October before kicking off a period of wider consultation.

The problem for the NHS is twofold: although its funding remains ringfenced, healthcare inflation means that in reality, the health service requires above-inflation increases to stand still. But the second, bigger problem aren’t cuts to the NHS but to the rest of government spending, particularly local government cuts.

That has seen more pressure on hospital beds as outpatients who require further non-emergency care have nowhere to go, increasing lifestyle problems as cash-strapped councils either close or increase prices at subsidised local authority gyms, build on green space to make the best out of Britain’s booming property market, and cut other corners to manage the growing backlog of devolved cuts.

All of which means even a bigger supply of cash for the NHS than the £8bn promised at the last election – even the bonanza pledged by Vote Leave in the referendum, in fact – will still find itself disappearing down the cracks left by cuts elsewhere. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.