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Ageing and Employment Policies: United States 2018

Working Better with Age and Fighting Unequal Ageing

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In the United States, employment rates at older ages are comparatively high at 62% among 55-64 year-olds against 59% on average in OECD countries in 2016. However, there are large disparities across population groups. Early retirement remains a widespread phenomenon, especially among workers from vulnerable socio-economic backgrounds. Preventing old-age disparities in terms of employment outcomes and retirement income from widening is crucial. This report looks at the various pathways out of the labour market for older workers, and how employers can be supported to retain and hire older workers. It examines the best ways that the United States can promote the employability of workers throughout their working lives and more equal outcomes among older workers.

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Pathways out of the labour market for older workers in the United States

Poverty rates are very high in the United States compared to other OECD countries, especially among older people. Supporting longer careers for all socio-economic groups is one way of reducing old-age poverty without putting additional strain on the fiscal sustainability of pension systems. In the United States, like in many other OECD countries, working lives and the pathways out of the labour market vary substantially across socio-economic groups, however. Low-educated people tend to stop working earlier than their high-educated peers and they are far more likely to face periods of unemployment or disability prior to retirement. In addition, bad health as a barrier to extended careers is more widespread among low-educated people. Tackling the main drivers of early retirement involves eliminating disincentives to work in the pension system, preventing health problems among all workers, including among older workers, and increasing the flexibility of labour market exits through well-tailored policy intervention.

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