Ageing and employers’ perceptions of labour costs and productivity: A survey among European employers

Purpose: This paper examines employers’ perceptions of changes of the labour cost-productivity gap due to the ageing of the workforce, the effects of tenure wages and employment protect ion on the perceived gap and whether a perceived labour cost-productivity gap affects employers’ recruitment and retention behaviour towards older workers.Methodology: We analyze surveys administered to employers in Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden.Findings: Approximately half of the employers associate the ageing of the personnel staff with a growing gap between labour costs and productivity. Both the presence of tenure wages and employment protection rules increase the probability that employers perceive a widening labour cost–productivity gap due to the ageing of their workforce. A counterfactual shows that even when employment protection and tenure wage systems are abolished 40 percent of the employers expect a net cost increase. The expected labour cost-productivity gap negatively affects both recruitment and retention of older workers.Originality: The wage-productivity gap is examined by the perceptions of employers using an international comparative survey.

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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