The number of active over-50s almost doubled in the period 1992–2004. The share of older people in the active labour force rose from 14 to more than 22 percent. This is partly due to the ageing of the population and the fact that more older people participate in the labour process compared to young people.
Share of older workers doubled
More and more older people are working at least twelve hours a week. In 2004 nearly 1.6 million persons over 50 were active on the labour market, twice as many as in 1992. Currently, older workers constitute more than 22 percent of the total active labour force in the age category 15-74.
Population aged 50–74 by gender and position on the labour market, 1992 and 2004
Sharp increase labour participation older employees
The ageing of the population partly accounts for the increase in older workers. In the period 1992–2004 the age group 50-74 annually grew by more than 900 thousand to 4.2 million. Even more important was the increased labour participation rate of older people, which rose from 25 to 37 percent.
Between 1992 and 2004 the labour participation rate of older persons increased across all age groups. In 2004 the participation rate of 50 to 54 year olds was 70 percent, in the 55 to 59 age bracket almost 55 percent. The participation rate is significantly lower among over-60s: in the age category 60-64 only 20 percent were working.
Labour participation rate among over-50s
One in three older workers are women
The labour participation rate of older men is still significantly higher than that of older women but there is a relatively strong increase among older women. The sharpest increase, by 25 percentage points, was found among 50 to 54 year old females. In 1992 one in four older workers were women, in 2004 the rate was one in three.
Reduced working hours after 60
Average working hours of older people hardly vary those of the total active population but there are large age disparities within over-50s. The proportion of older people working part-time increases substantially from the age of 60.
Working hours active labour force aged 50–74, 2004
Older people more often self-employed
The proportion of self-employed is relatively high among older workers. In total 12 percent of the active labour force were self-employed in 2004. In the 50 to 74 age bracket 18 percent were self-employed . The share of self-employed among the working population over 65 was even higher, i.e. 60 percent. They were mainly farmers and retailers.
Hendrika Lautenbach and Henk-Jan Dirven