Being elderly at the age of 40: perspectives from Austria
Angelika Gruber (Centre for Social Innovation)
Paper short abstract:
Given the demographic process of ageing, the OECD recommends later exit from the labour market. In this paper I attempt to contextualise the shifting denotations of ageing in the context of the Austrian labour market – the employment rate of older workers being rather low in this country.
Paper long abstract:
The foundations of the Austrian model of the Sozialstaat (welfare state) and the financing system of pension schemes are currently being challenged through the demographic process of ageing. A consequence often named as inevitable is the necessity for later retirement from work, resulting from the alteration-in-progress of the population pyramid that shows a drastic shift towards old age. Adding up to only 28.8 percent, however, the Austrian total employment rate of older workers aged 55 to 64 is one of the lowest in the European Union (EUROSTAT 2004). At the same time persons 40+, already being conceived as elderly, are under considerable pressure in Austria: getting into jobs and staying in the job is often an insurmountable challenge. The qualities of persons aged 40+ concerning their contribution to the work force are constantly put into question. Attributes often named as characteristics of being elderly are inflexibility and high employment expenses, as wages rise with the advancement of age. In this paper I attempt to identify and contextualize markers of ageing and being elderly in the context of the Austrian labour market and the shifting denotations of ageing in the context of work, gender and pension schemes.
Understanding welfare and well-being in a globalised world