Shades of labor: Motives of older adults to participate in productive activities

“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.

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.

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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