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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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Supporting employers to retain and hire older workers in the United States

With relatively little employment protection and no mandatory retirement age, US firms’ willingness to hire and retain older workers is key to ensuring older workers have access to good jobs. Employers’ attitudes are central. While the United States has pioneered anti-age discrimination, coverage has not been extended to all workers so far. The skill-set of older workers in the United States is relatively good, both with respect to younger workers and older workers in other large OECD countries. While older workers perform less well on information-processing tasks, they have interpersonal skills that are called upon to plan, supervise, and influence others. This highlights the importance of mobility across tasks, jobs and occupations. Occupational mobility is higher in the United States than in other large OECD countries but changes to health insurance rules (such as repealing the Affordable Care Act) risk creating barriers to job mobility of older workers. Non-wage costs continue to create a disincentive to hire older workers, especially the higher costs for health insurance of older workers.

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