In the west we live in very modern societies, when it comes to the view of aging, attitudes are astonishingly outdated: people who happen to be aged 65+ are easily lumped together in a way that is unthinkable when it comes to other age groups.
The clearest example is in the labour market. The elderly as a group have become increasingly healthier: 70 percent of 55-74-year-olds report good or very good health and have enormous experience and competence to contribute.
Despite this, we continue to push seniors out of the labour market with laws, rules, finances and strong norms – at the same time as we have a great shortage of skills. It is an overly narrow view, characterized by ageism, which means a waste of human resources when people are too often considered consumed simply because they have passed an age mark. We can not continue like that.
We need comprehensive reforms to counteract ageism in the labour market by strengthening the right to work longer, under more flexible conditions, while at the same time making it easier for employers to employ older people.
It is important to emphasize that those who can no longer or do not want to work – where their health may not allow, for example, due to a strenuous profession – should continue to have the opportunity to retire safely.
But in order to make the exit from working life flexible and a personal choice based on one’s own life situation, extensive changes are needed:
- Increase the right to remain in the labour market sharply: first from 69 to 72 years and in a second step, after an evaluation, to 75 years. Then we make better use of the elderly’s skills and challenge the notion of when to “should” retire. We know from previous age limit changes that they play a major role in labour market attitudes.
- Increase flexibility and the possibility of gradually retiring through a mutual right for employees and employers to choose a lower employment rate down to 50 percent for 69+.
Today, many people experience an overly abrupt end to working life that can be difficult. That is why we need to make it easier to reduce working life.
- Introduce completely removed employer contribution from age 69 to make it easier for employers to have older employees.
The change is implemented so that the state compensates the employer for the paid old-age pension contribution. Reducing costs for older employees at the same time as rule changes that benefit the opportunities for older people to work are implemented make it easier for employers.
- Give the individual senior who continues to work more in the wallet by strengthening the employment tax deduction for 69+ by just over a third.
In combination with greater opportunities to work, more seniors in the sectors with a shortage force such as teachers, doctors, engineers, nurses, police investigators or midwives will continue to work.
In addition to prejudices against the elderly and widespread ageism, there is also a misconception that older people who work prevent young people from entering the labour market. But this is not true.
Rather, there are signs that more older people in the labour market are actually making it easier for young people to get a foothold – older people and young people are not competing for the same job. The fact that the elderly continue to work can even create more jobs for young people.
We can not afford not to change our approach. What are we waiting for?