Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN01_02a: Employment in Later Life
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Dirk Hofaecker, University of Duisburg-Essen
Location: UP.3.204
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Third Floor Oxford Road

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Older Workers And Job Mobility: Two Countries, Two Stories

Emma Garavaglia1, Anne Inga Hilsen2

1Università degli Studi di Milano Bicocca; 2Fafo - Institute for Labour and Social Research

Ageing population in Europe has led to several policy reforms intended to lengthen working careers. Despite the need to prolong work careers, if people have to work longer, we also need to recognize which factors enable or hinder longer careers, e.g. what happens if someone needs to change jobs either voluntary or because of job loss after 50?

This paper discusses issues related to job mobility after 50, based on the results of two qualitative studies of older workers’ experiences of voluntary or involuntary job mobility. Specifically, one study investigated the experience of 15 Italian managers made redundant and the other of 20 Norwegian employees who voluntary changed jobs after 50. In both studies, data were collected through individual in-depth interviews.

Participants from Norway changed jobs without experiencing ageism. Their stories reflect a context of valorization of older workers’ competences and experience. On the contrary, the stories of participants from Italy reflect a context characterized by huge obstacles to job mobility and in which age discrimination is apparent. The differences in how the two groups make sense of their experiences of job mobility in old age reflect the huge distance between the institutional and cultural contexts of the two countries. Norway and Italy have followed divergent active ageing policy strategies. These, in turn, have resulted in different shared narratives around older workers.

The joint discussion of results from the two studies can contribute to a better understanding of contextual forces that shape the possibility of action towards inclusive labour markets.

Routine, Repetition and Monotonie: Stress and Strain In Aging Workforce And Simple Labour

Thomas Geisen

University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland FHNW, Switzerland

Many workers in the European countries are employed in simple work, which means that the work they do is not determined by the qualifications they have. Moreover, their positions require no specific prerequisites such as vocational education training, and are characterized by routine, repetition and monotony. Growing older in these jobs, which are often difficult, dirty and dangerous (3-D-jobs), means new challenges for migrant workers, especially in relation to health, both physical and mental, and the demands for new qualifications linked to developments such as industry 4.0/digitalization. So far, workers in this labour market segment have not gained much attention in research. Therefore, we have carried out a qualitative study in Switzerland (2015–17) that focused on elderly workers doing simple labour. In a first step ten in-depth interviews with experts from politics, workers unions, employer associations and social insurances were conducted. In a second step we conducted interviews in twenty-five companies in the industrial, logistic, gastronomy, health and care sector (in-depth interviews with HRM or CEO, problem centred interviews, analyzed with qualitative content analysis) and in a third step we completed six case studies in companies (documentary analysis, problem-centred interviews with CEO/HRM and supervisors, focus-group discussion by employees). The presentation will show core findings of this study. The results show that workers face many difficulties at work as they age, particularly those doing physically demanding manual jobs. The main thesis is that there is an urgent need to support older workers in simple labour more effectively, and to develop new ways to provide professional support to both workers and companies.

Mature Entrepreneurs In West and East Germany In The Life Course Perspective – Motivations, Resources, Constraints

Janina Myrczik1, Annette Franke2, Justyna Stypinska1

1Freie Universität Berlin, Germany; 2Evangelische Hochschule Ludwigsburg, Germany

According to Diewald and colleagues (2006), the analysis of the life course is particularity well-suited for the study of post-socialist transformation societies, since it is possible to observe in individual biographies the transfer from one form of society into another. For most men and women in East Germany, reunification had been a major break in their career paths causing difficulties to make use of their previous occupational skills Their life courses were less standardized than of those who lived in West Germany. The past or legacy of socialism has often been analyzed as one of the socio-institutional factors influencing or hampering business activities in transition economies (see Bluhm 1999, Diewald et al. 2006). However, in times of a tight labor market, people in East Germany could use precisely this experience of de-standardization as a resource to become self-employed. The paper presents results from a research project funded by the German Research Association (DFG) examining the process of becoming an entrepreneur in later life with relation to previous career paths in. The analysis is based on 50 qualitative in-depth interviews using the life course perspective in East and West Germany with men and women who were 45 years and older when becoming self-employed.

The paper casts a comparative perspective on the experiences of mature entrepreneurs in East and West Germany with focus on their motivations (opportunity or necessity entrepreneurs), the resources they could use, and the constraints in their activities.

Employment Market Participation in late adulthood - Insights from the district level

Matthias Nowc, Meike Bücker

University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany

For more than 15 years, a more or less constantly positive developing employment rate of the 55- to 65-year-olds has been observed. This applies both to the European level as well as to the national and federal level in Germany. An extensive literature on “retirement transition” documents individual and institutional explanatory factors for the emerging late adulthood labour, in particular at national and transnational level. We ask if these statements can be transferred to a smaller-scaled level or should these „classical“ factors be extended by additional explanatory approaches? What is the situation within the municipalities or the districts and cities? This governance-level has rarely been taken into account by researchers, but the trend of a longer gainful employment can also be confirmed for the county level in North Rhine-Westphalia. So what are the regional success concepts and how can the sometimes strong differences be justified? That is important, because districts and municipalities in Germany do not have special competencies in pension policy. We approach this topic with our central research question: Can the county level reveal new explanatory factors for the employment market participation in old age? Furthermore we enquire about different explanatory paths in the field of research (equifinality). The paper uses district level data and qualitative interviews with different stakeholders to offer rare insight into the late adulthood labour market participation. Methodologically, we use a mixed-method approach that uses both quantitative data from the "Socio-Economic Panel" and qualitative interviews. On this basis, the districts are compared in order to supplement local explanatory factors. In addition, the results are complemented in a Qualitative Comparative Analysis to correlate the structural determinants.

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