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July 29, 2010



Supose that the old worker loses about 25% of his productivity. The firm needs to hire somebody to do that work and so it takes someone (younger or not). Even if the new contract is for half working day, that means paying twice its value. It seems that this is what creating new jobs is called those days.
This kind of reasoning maybe behind the figures of jobless people in crisis time and the hard that it is to reduce them once things start to go better: many people's marginal productivity is close to zero.

Phil Ruse

I thought the case for forcible retirement was based on the benefits accrued to older workers? For example longer holidays by virtue of having worked at the company longer.

Forcible retirement allows firms to hire younger replacements who do the same amount of work at a re-adjusted salary [i.e. downwards] and with none of these benefits.


One could argue that the problem is not relative productivity (old vs young, short vs tall, ugly vs pretty), but absolute. Eg. a firm need workers with minimum productivity X. This could be an eager short guy, or a slightly lazy tall guy. However, as the worker gets older she loses productivity. And at some point the treshold X is breached, and she is fired. Not inconsistent to protect short and ugly guys, while allowing old people to get fired.

john Terry's Mum

I hereby declare guerilla war on older workers.

Retire already!

They are making sure young people's prospects are even more dismal they already are - hogging health resources and now employment.

There's a book called "The Pinch" I must read sometime, which deals with the very subject.

Brian Seck

There is an important difference between age discrimination and other forms, which doesn't seem to get remarked on much. Everyone who lives in an ageist society will get the benefits of it when they're young and suffer the same discrimination when they're old. (The exception is people who die young, who only get the benefits...)

So an ageist society does not create the same kind of injustice as a racist, sexist or ugly-ist society.

For employers, state-approved ageism must seem like a relatively painless way to get rid of some of the less productive workers. So it's natural that the CBI would oppose this reform.

As an aside, I wonder what the consequences would be if employers found more accurate methods of sorting and firing less productive employees. Presumably we'd be a bit more productive, but would there also be higher unemployment and worse inequality?


The point is, from an employers point of view, where does it end? How long do you have to continue to employ someone who is not up to the job, but refuses to retire? As it is you have the backstop of the retirement age to get rid of them painlessly. But if you have to go through some bureaucratic hoop jumping exercise, trying to 'prove' they aren't fit for work, then it could drag out for years, and cost thousands. Probably ending up at a tribunal for 'unfair dismissal'. Its going to become a liggers charter. Pay me off, or I'll go on forever.

It certainly won't do the older job applicant any favours - why employ an oldie, even if they are up to the job now, if you can't get rid of them in a few years time if they can't hack it anymore?

What about High Court judges? They're old enough as it is, can they go on indefinitely too? Army generals? Firemen? Nurses? Brain surgeons? Pilots?

The next thing will be that employers will be forced to find 'light duties' for employees no longer capable of physically doing their jobs.

And people wonder why there's so much unemployment. Couldn't be something to do with the nightmare that is employment law could it?


"The government’s decision to crack down on the sacking of older workers should, then, be welcomed on the grounds of consistency; there’s no strong reason to treat wrinkles differently from munters."

'Wrinkles', usually, will have worked most of their lives; the condition of being a 'munter' (this an English expression?) presumably knows no age boundaries so such may have never worked a day in their lives. Why is a resolute anti-capitalist such as yourself discussing this purely in terms of the firm and its rights and obligations? Historically the retirement age had to do with protecting workers from being compelled to work unto the grave for fear of poverty and destitution in old age. We may have moved on from here - and it's worth noting that when the old age pension was first introduced, it was for those over seventy - but an acknowledgment of the historical context would be appropriate, methinks.

john malpas

you tend to think that old workers are foreign and different. But they are you in some time in the future.
You all want to moan about supporting the elderly but seem to think they should be at the back of the queue workwise.
Dissing the elderly seems to be the last acceptable bigotry.

Wendy Whitney-Donohue

My personal view is that if they work people to the grave earlier then that saves the government from paying out pensions to the people in their golden years. In France it is I believe 62 years of age for retirement which is far more realistic. When we age our concentrations levels are not so sharp and our stamina starts to decline somewhat. Everyone comes from a different lifesyle so those on the lower braket of earnings are not as healthy in general. As one man said on tv why don't us elderly commit suicide that would make the government happy!


I'd suggest that the differences between immigrant and older workers are considerable.

Slight fuzzy head but........increasing the labour supply whilst keeping the population constant (in relationship to the labour market change) compared to an immigration led increase in the labour supply - surely reduces the dependency ratio as well as the absolute and cost per worker of providing state services. That works even if we assume recent immigrants use less than average state services.

Abolishing the retirement age would increase the supply of labour across all skill levels with the right language skills and most occupations unlike immigration that creates imperfect matches and under-employment because of poor language skills and therefore some skills signalling issues for employers.

In London this would also avoid futher housing market demand increases.

And controversially lets assume that there is some form of kinship across workers who have a shared background of living in the geographical area - despite the Westminister and wonk talk of a generation war isn't this likely to be a happier, more democratic and ultimately more supported way of increasing the labour supply and starting to solve our dependency ratio problems than another wave of demand led immigration and the subsequent ghettoism of housing and culture?

john malpas

I like the way you portray the young as keen of eye , strong of endurance and wonderfully productive.
So who rolls up to work after a night of drunken shagging - the old?
Who wants a productive surgeon? Would not you prefere one who is careful and only regards the result as important?

Alley Hastings

Retirement should be a mandatory benefit for all employee, private or government. As I see retirement one of the best time a humankind would have.
"Do thing whenever you want it"

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