Longer careers: A barrier to hiring and coworker advancement?

In response to the increasing fiscal burden imposed by public-pension systems, many countries have successfully encouraged older workers to delay retirement. These career extensions may significantly affect both the hiring and firing decisions of firms and the career progression of younger workers. To study these effects, we leverage reforms in the Netherlands in 2011 / 12 that gradually increased the eligibility age for public-pension benefits across birth cohorts. Using administrative linked employer-employee data, we first show that the reforms have significantly extended careers, doubling employment rates at ages that were directly affected. Next, we show that firms respond by delaying hiring, and hiring fewer workers overall. Co-workers also experience slower earnings growth over the period of career extensions, which is mainly attributable to a reduction in hours worked rather than lower hourly wages, but their separation rates from the firm are not affected. We support these findings with a descriptive analysis of an earlier Dutch reform in 2006, which reduced the share of older workers taking up early retirement and reveals similar dynamics.

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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