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16 October 2012

The old aren’t stealing our jobs

Baby boomers just as harmless as they look.

By Martha Gill

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.

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