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Does Age Affect Productivity?


Does productivity decline with age? A recent study suggests otherwise, claiming today’s generation is actually earning less and not as likely to obtain as many academic credentials as workers older than 60. Boy, how times have changed.

Back in the day (as grandparents are wont to say), the elderly workforce tended to get by with less formal education. College was more of a luxury. Many elderly workers in previous generation had to support themselves very young or drop out of school to support family (think immigrants or the Great Depression generation). 

Today, the education attainment has switched: Now, the elderly are more likely to hold a four-year degree, thanks to rising tuition costs that have made college prohibitively expensive for younger workers.

A recent study from the Brookings Institution funded by the Social Security Administration finds that older workers earn more and are no less productive than their 20- and 30-year-old counterparts. 

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“As the population grows older an increasing percentage of the workforce will be past age 60,” the study states. “Older workers are ordinarily thought to be less productive than younger ones, raising the question of whether an aging workforce will also be a less productive one.”

The answer is a definite, “no.”

“Improved education among the population past 60 and delays in retirement among better educated Americans have tended to boost the earnings of older workers compared with younger ones,” the study’s author explains.

Two of the main reasons for productivity among the elderly are the sheer size of the Baby Boomer population and the increased number of older working adults.

Read the study in its entirety right here.

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More from PayScale

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The Future Labor Shortage

The 10 Commandments of Productivity

(Photo via JenelleBoyce / Flickr )

Jennifer Wadsworth
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