Changes in employment rates of older workers

Countries with higher normal retirement ages tend to have higher employer rates for older workers, but there are a few exceptions (Figure 6.11). Iceland and Norway have retirement ages of 67 years for both men and women and also have among the highest employment rates for those age 60 to 64, at 75% and 65%, respectively, well above the OECD average of 51%.

Except for Colombia, Costa Rica and Korea where informality in the labour market is high or the pension system has not yet matured, countries with low normal retirement ages tend to have low employment rates among people aged between 60 and 64 years. This is the case in particular in Austria, Greece, Luxembourg, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia where the current normal retirement age (averaged across genders) is at 62.5 years or lower. Among countries with a high retirement age, the employment rate among older workers is low in Italy.

Employment rates of people aged between 55 and 64 have improved in almost all OECD countries since 2000, both among the 55-59 and 60-64 age groups (Figure 6.12). On average, they have increased by 17.0 percentage points for those aged 55 to 59 and by 18.8 percentage points for those aged 60 to 64, reaching 71.9% and 50.7% in 2020, respectively. By comparison, the employment rate in the 25-to-54 age group only increased, on average, from 76.5% in 2000 to 79.5% in 2020. The greatest increases for the 55-to-59 age group occurred in Hungary, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia, all of which increased by over 40 percentage points between 2000 and 2020. For the 60-to-64 age group Germany and the Netherlands also increased by over 40 percentage points Conversely, In Iceland and Turkey, for those aged 55-59 and 60-64 the employments rate declined over the 20-year period, as was also the case for those aged 60-64 in Mexico.

On average, 55-64 year-olds at all levels of educational attainment have experienced a marked increase in employment between 2000-19, averaging 13 percentage points for low and high levels of education and by 17 percentage points for those with a medium level of education (Figure 6.13). In terms of changes in employment rates, low-educated older workers have lagged significantly behind their high-educated peers in Belgium, Italy, Korea, Poland, Slovenia and Turkey, while it is the opposite in Australia, Denmark, Ireland, Luxembourg and Mexico.

Employment rates are calculated as the ratio of the employed to the total population in the respective age group. Employed people are those (aged 15 or over) who report that they have worked in gainful employment for at least one hour in the previous week or who had a job but were absent from work during the reference week.

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