The Occupation Development of Elderly People in Germany since 1990
Content and Objective
The topic “elderly workers” (aged 50 or older) has been causing considerable controversy in the social sciences since the 1980s. The background to this debate was the very common practice of companies retiring older workers off, facilitated amongst other things by the flexible age limits in statutory pensions insurance, as well as by the legally-regulated easing of the transition from work into retirement. The legal development in statutory pensions insurance since the 1990s (the latest example being the “pension at 67”), and the further advanced demographic ageing, permit one to anticipate a new perception of elderly people in the working world. The “dual paradigm change” (from the systematic retirement of the elderly from the productive process to obliging them to work for longer) appears to have been largely completed in the institutions. How, though, is the situation of the working population concerned beyond the age of 50 to be evaluated in this context? A comprehensive view of the working-related conduct of older working-age persons in Germany over the past 20 years or so is suitable in the sense that societal trends change very slowly in general, and much shorter periods are chosen in the literature as a rule.
Moreover, a topical discussion is taking place regarding the threat of poverty in Germany, linked to the fact that a not inconsiderable number of individuals who draw an old-age pension continue to engage in paid work. One can observe at the same time that a growing number of older persons in gainful employment are delaying their retirement beyond the statutory retirement age. Having said that, relatively little is known about these two groups of individuals. Neither social structural characteristics nor the motives for working in retirement age are named. A differentiated view of these groups of individuals is however indispensable in order to be able to assess whether elderly people are continuing to work beyond the statutory retirement age for financial reasons or for other, non-economic reasons.
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