Does the job market need older people?
In almost all EU member states, the number of people aged between 55 and 64 who are still gainfully employed has risen in the last decade, a study by the University of Duisburg-Essen shows. Particularly in Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Poland, the percentage of older workers has increased. Only in Greece, Cyprus and Spain has it dropped. Commentators nonetheless see much room for improvement.
Elderly neglected in Sweden of all places
Dagens Nyheter is annoyed that according to a current study Sweden rates poorly when it comes to employing older workers:
“It's particularly strange when you consider that the elderly in Sweden are healthier and more active than in other countries. ... [The discrimination] perhaps has its origin in the disdainful view people in Sweden take of ageing, which runs counter to the sense of equality and the flat hierarchies that otherwise characterise our society. The elderly are not particularly respected here. And since many live at a distance from their relatives, their experiences are not passed on as they are in cultures where different generations live together. This leads to a way of thinking in which the elderly are viewed as passé and incapable, while the young are praised almost to the point of absurdity.”
Ban on dismissals is ineffective
Dismissing workers with fewer than five years to go before they retire is being made a punishable offence in Russia, in a bid to make the reform raising the retirement age by five years more acceptable. For Echo of Moscow the move is a sham:
“So now you don't have to survive until you reach retirement age, but just until you make it to the five-year threshold. ... Then you become one of the gerontologically untouchable. ... But employers will always find a way to get around the ban. ... If you can't fire a woman once she's reached 55, she'll be fired at 54 and a half. Older workers will be given tasks they can't handle, then fired for functional incapacity. ... The only difference will be that instead of their pensions they'll be paid unemployment benefits.”
Recognition instead of discrimination
In Lithuania, a country hit by labour shortagesdue among other factors to widespread emigration, the government has indicated its intention to promote the integration of elderly people in society. For the business paper Verslo žinios pretty words are not enough:
“Although opinions about elderly workers on the labour market are slowly changing and their experience, motivation and loyalty are coming to be better appreciated, age discrimination is still widespread. For quicker integration in the job market and a more effective organisation of the 'silver economy', business and government must increase their cooperation.”