Policy changes and the labour force participation of older workers: evidence from six countries

Can J Aging. 2006 Winter;25(4):387-400. doi: 10.1353/cja.2007.0015.


In response to the anticipated pressures of population aging, national governments and supra-national bodies such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Union (EU) have promoted policies to encourage the labour force participation of older workers. The recent elimination of mandatory retirement in Ontario is an example of such a policy, and others include changes to national pension systems and changes to disability and employment insurance programs, active labour-market policies, and the promotion of phased or gradual retirement. This paper reviews the different policy approaches taken in the six countries included in the Workforce Aging in the New Economy (WANE) project, placing Canadian policy approaches in relation to those taken in Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. From the life course perspective, the policy approaches discussed here do not consider the heterogeneity of older workers' life courses or the related domains of health and family. As well, the changes made thus far do not appear likely to lead to increased labour force participation by older workers, and some may leave older workers at greater risk of low income and low-wage work.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Developed Countries*
  • Employment / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Employment / trends
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Netherlands
  • Retirement / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Retirement / trends
  • Salaries and Fringe Benefits / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Salaries and Fringe Benefits / trends
  • Social Change
  • United Kingdom
  • United States