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Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing

Work and retirement in the European Union

An interdisciplinary perspective

From Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence, MICRA and Age-UK

Monday 20 April 2015

Useful links:

Speakers:

  • Professor Hans-Martin Hasselhorn, Head of Department "work and health", Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Berlin
  • Professor Chris Phillipson, Professor of Sociology and Social Gerontology, and Dr Martin Hyde, Lecturer in Sociology, The University of Manchester
  • Professor James Nazroo, Professor of Sociology, The University of Manchester  
  • Professor Tarani Chandola, Professor of Medical Sociology, The University of Manchester

This academic workshop focused on the latest interdisciplinary research on work and retirement in the European Union. The European Union is currently facing a unique demographic and economic challenge. On the one hand, life expectancy is increasing, fertility is declining and there are efforts underway in many European Union Member States to decrease migration. It is envisaged that by 2060, there will be 151 million persons in the European Union over the age of 65 years, a labour force which will be reduced to 20.4 million and an old-age dependency ratio of 53.6%. On the other hand, the European Union is also facing a youth unemployment crisis, with just over 21% of young people in the European Union unemployed. Therefore, there is a significant intergenerational clash between the interests of older workers and those of younger workers.

Retirement policies have become a central part of this debate. Arguments have been made that the increase in retirement age would alleviate many of the difficulties facing the European Union in relation to the demographic crisis, although many states within the European Union who are facing significant youth unemployment levels (e.g. Spain and Ireland), argue that such moves will only serve to worsen the youth unemployment crisis. Other issues such as the right to equality for older workers (and the prohibition on age discrimination) and the health and well-being effects of increasing retirement ages must also be considered. The purpose of this workshop was to bring together some of the leading experts in the European Union on ageing to debate the most recent and cutting-edge research in this area with researchers and postgraduate students at the University of Manchester and to consider policy recommendations for the alleviation of these significant challenges at a European Union level.