Staying in work later: what are we doing?


older woman at deskKantele Franko/AP/Press Association Images

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has produced a report showing that older women are now more likely than ever to remain in work. What they have called the 'Madonna Generation' is the fastest-growing segment of the workforce.

So what is going on, and what jobs are these older workers most likely to have?

Women work later

The report: Age, gender and the jobs recession, found that women aged between 50 and 64 are defying the recession, and finding work. There are 271,000 (8%) more women aged 50-64 in the labour market than at the start of the recession and 200,000 (6.2%) more in work. The number of men in this age group in employment has risen by only 3,000.

Dr John Philpott, Chief Economic Adviser at the CIPD, says: "When it comes to work, older people have clearly fared better than young people during the jobs recession. But what's also clear is that older women have done best of all. While a combination of population ageing and fewer people wanting to retire early, either for financial reasons or because of a broader desire to prolong their working lives, is boosting the older workforce, it is older women that are getting most of the available jobs. Just why this is happening requires further examination, though with the modern generation of 50 something women more likely to view Madonna than Grandma Grey as a role model, the economically active older woman is well on course to be ever more prominent in British workplaces in the coming years."


Research by Saga found that in many instances this is due to economy necessity. Dr Ros Altmann, Director-General at Saga comments: "People coming up to retirement are increasingly finding their private pensions are not as good as they had hoped - with women particularly having very little private pension. This means they have to stay at work if they want a reasonable income."

However, she says this is not an entirely negative trend, saying: "Many older people are increasingly choosing to stay at work but try to work part-time so that they ease more gently into retirement. If they feel fit and healthy and want more money, and are able to work, they are choosing to do so. More people are working part-time in later life, as they try to retire gradually, rather than suddenly. This is much healthier and helps keep people in the labour market longer, which will be increasingly important for the long-term health of our economy."

What are they doing?

So what jobs are older people doing? A recent study by the Urban Institute in the US of workers over the age of 65 found that the top ten most common fields are:

1. Shop worker
2. Farmer
3. Shop supervisor
4. Cleaner
5. Driver
6. Secretaries and administrators
7. Cashier
8. Accountants and book-keepers
9. Estate agent
10 Chief executive

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