More older people working

Labour participation rates among the over-50s in the Netherlands rose substantially in the period 1997-2002. Older women, especially, more often had a paid job. Over the age of 65, however, the proportion of people with a paid job remains very low.

Exodus at sixty

In 2002, 70 percent of people aged 50-54 years had a paid job. Among 55-59 year-olds this percentage was already substantially lower at 54t. Past the age of sixty the share of people who still work drops very quickly: only 17 percent of the age group 60-64 years, and only 4 percent of the over-65s have a paid job.

Labour participation among the over-50s

Considerable increase in over-50s with a job

Labour participation among older people rose in all age categories up to 65 years in the period 1997-2002. The increase was largest for the age group 55-59 years, where the proportion of people with paid work rose from 42 to 54 percent. Labour participation rates for the over-65s remained low in this period.

Men stay in work longer

For men the increase in labour participation was mainly visible in the age category 55-59 years: from nearly 60 to over 70 percent. There was hardly any increase in the other age categories. The increased participation rates for men in the period may be connected with the favourable economy.

Labour participation: men aged 50-69 years

Large increase in participation by women up to 60

For the over-50s the difference in labour participation between men and women is diminishing. The number of working women aged between 50 and 59 years rose strongly. While fewer than 40 percent of women aged 50-54 worked in 1997, this had risen to more than 50 percent in 2002. In the age category 55-59 years, too, labour participation by women rose by more than ten percent points.

For women the increase is mainly the consequence of a generational difference: women from younger generations more often have a job than women from older generations. This also means that the difference in labour participation will decrease further as new generations of women enter the older age categories.

Labour participation: women aged 50-69 years

Who works after 65?

Only a very small part of the age group 65-69 years still have a paid job. Most of them are men; many are self-employed; and relatively many have a flexible job.

Cees Maas