Retention of older workers: Impact of managers’ age norms and stereotypes

Delaying mandatory retirement age is one of the measures that governments across Europe propose to combat future labour force shortages. Although a growing number of older workers are willing to extend their working career, the evidence suggests that employers favour early retirement rather than retention of older workers. The current study examines how managers evaluate the desirability of postponing retirement of older workers and what is the impact of age norms and ageist stereotypes on managers’ decisions. To investigate this question, a factorial study among 238 managers in Dutch organizations was conducted. Profiles of hypothetical older workers were presented to the employers, who evaluated the desirability of keeping them in the organization for a few more years. Information on age norms and age stereotypes, collected a month before the vignette study was administered, was consecutively combined in the analysis. The results indicate that keeping older workers until the mandatory retirement age is not essential for managers. Our study also shows that age norms positively affect managers’ propensity to retain older workers.

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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