Five, older workers nearing retirement will need to want to stay on at work, and we need more research about incentives for participation and about the intention to retire which we do not know enough about.
Six, Government policy re earnings, government superannuation and retirement income will need reassessment if we are serious about retaining the intellectual capital of older workers.
Seven, media stereotypes about older people and older workers need to be actively challenged. Late last year the country’s largest daily newspaper, The New Zealand Herald, discovered age. In an editorial headlined “Dawning of the New Age of Age”, readers were told that suddenly age is all the rage; age and experience. The editorial stated: “The cult of youth, which seemed so overwhelming at the turn of the century, is in retreat. Those of greying temples are reclaiming influence and power in fields as diverse as commerce, politics, sport, the media and entertainment.”
The paper trawled through a roll call of greying temples (all men) such as Graham Henry as All Black coach and Don Brash as National Party leader. Bill Ralston, was unlucky to be described as ‘suitably worn and grey” at only 49 years old, while the venerable tonsil, Dr Brian Edwards, was said to reclaim the spotlight on national television at the expense of the much younger Mike Hosking, who disappeared from prime time view. The editorial claimed that wisdom and judgment, while never dirty words, have been rehabilitated. Even if we overlook “silly season” hyperbole, there is a delicious irony in the newspaper’s interest. The wholesale surrender to the cult of youth celebrity has been a media artefact. As grey hair begins to dominate newsrooms it will be intriguing to see if the media are capable of self rehabilitation.
Eight, the economic as well as social value of unpaid work such as caring of dependants, child-minding as grandparents for those in the workforce, and volunteering, need to be properly assessed and acknowledged and appropriate adjustments made by policy makers.
I would like to make some comment on existing public policy initiatives for older workers.
Public Policy Initiatives for Older Workers
Philip Taylor (2002) New Policies for Older Workers
Joseph Rowntree Foundation
Those countries which have ended mandatory retirement have not seen an immediate change in retirement patterns
Employment subsidies have limited value, except when paid directly to employees
Little evidence yet of integration of public policies toward older workers with the notable exception of Finland and Japan. Australia is doing better