Older and younger workers: the equalling effects of health

Vanessa Beck, Martin Quinn
  • Education + Training, September 2012, Emerald
  • DOI: 10.1108/00400911211265639

Older and younger workers: the equalling effects of health

What is it about?

The purpose of this paper is to consider the statistical evidence on the effects that ill health has on labour market participation and opportunities for younger and older workers in the East Midlands (UK). A statistical analysis of Labour Force Survey data was undertaken to demonstrate that health issues affect older and younger workers alike. This has an equalling effect on labour market opportunities, which should reduce any potential for intergenerational conflict within the workforce.

Why is it important?

Although health problems that limit activities and affect the amount and kind of work an individual can undertake increase with age, there are high levels of ill health of these kinds within all age groups, including the youngest workers. The regional statistical analysis can only provide indications, and further research is required to differentiate which groups of younger and older workers suffer from which types of illnesses, as this has direct implications for their employment. A more direct consideration of health in employment, education and training policy is required to enable the development of healthy and long-term working lives that benefit individuals and the economy. The consideration of the effects of health issues on the labour market should lead to a reconsideration of the rhetoric, and the reality of intergenerational conflict. There might be less reason for such competition than is generally perceived.


Vanessa Beck
University of Bristol

The paper considers intergenerational conflict in a labour market context and suggests that health issues have an equalising effect for the relative positions of older and younger workers.

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