Many shades of labor – older adult’s motives for active participation

“Responding to personal motives helps keep the elderly productive for society”

Productivity of the elderly involves more than just labor participation. Many 55- to 85-year-olds in the Netherlands undertake various paid and unpaid activities, that produce value to others. As age progresses, their motives for staying active also change. Financial and self-oriented (personal) motives become less important as people get older. In addition to financial incentives and regulations, responding to these different motives can have a positive effect on the productivity of the elderly at the labor market as well as in society.

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Key Takeaways for the Industry
  • This study highlights the importance of embracing a broader definition of productive ageing which includes activities beyond purely labor market participation of older adults.
  • A better understanding of older workers’ motivation can help to keep them working longer.
  • This study does not address the combination of paid work and unpaid activities that many elderly people are confronted with. This may be interesting for follow-up research.

Want to know more?
Download the paper “Shades of labor: Motives of older adults to participate in productive activities” by Sonja Wendel and Benedict Dellaert (EUR).

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.


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