Understanding Older Worker Precarity

Lain, D. et al (2019). Understanding Older Worker Precarity: The Intersecting Domains of Jobs, Households and the Welfare State. Ageing & Society, 39, 2219–2241 doi:10.1017/S0144686X18001253

We argue that many older workers, not just those in ‘precarious jobs’, feel a sense of ‘onto- logical precarity’. Pressures to work longer, combined with limited alternative employ- ment prospects and inadequate retirement incomes, give rise to a heightened sense of precarity. We develop a new theoretical model for understanding precarity as a lived experience, which is influenced by the intersection between precarious jobs, precarious welfare states and precarious households. This model is then illustrated using qualitative research from two organisations in the United Kingdom: ‘Local Government’ and‘Hospitality’. In both organisations, older workers experienced a sense of ontological pre- carity because they worried about the long-term sustainability of their jobs and saw limited alternative sources of retirement income. Household circumstances either reinforced interviewees’ sense of precarity, or acted as a buffer against it. This was particularly important for women, as they typically accrued smaller financial resources in their own right. Our concluding discussion builds on this more advanced theoretical understanding of older worker precarity to call for a rethinking of state and employer support for decisions around later-life working and retirement.

Ageism and Age Discrimination in the Labour Market

Justyna, S and Nikander, P. Ageism and Age Discrimination in the Labour Market: A Macrostructural Perspective Contemporary Perspectives on Ageism. In Contemporary Perspectives on Ageism, Springer, 2018, pp 91-108

This chapter looks at the phenomenon of ageism and age discrimination in the labour market from a socio-political perspective and draws attention to key factors in its emergence. The approach adopted here goes beyond the individualistic and micro accounts adopted mostly by psychologists, as well as beyond the meso perspective as used in organisation and work environment studies. Our aim is rather to examine the role of macrostructural processes and transformations and to identify their link to the persistence of ageism and age discrimination in contemporary labour markets. First, an overview of the most predominant conceptual understandings of ageism and age discrimination in employment are provided, which clarify the theoretical and empirical distinctions between the two related, but not synonymous, concepts. This section also provides a life-course perspective on age discrimination in the labour market by looking at experiences of different age groups, as well as an elaboration of the intersectional approach to ageism. Second, the chapter investigates the dynamics between the phenomena of ageism and age discrimination and a range of socio-political contexts, cultural settings, and legal and economic conditions. We then discuss the costs and consequences of age discrimination in employment, as well as particular policy responses.