OECD Forum 2014: A New Age
Monday 5 May
15:30 - 18:30
Room 6

Ageing is a major social, economic, political and development issue for the 21st century. Today, there are over 900 million people in the world over the age of 60. By 2050, that number will have grown to 2.4 billion, and a very large proportion of the world’s population over 60 will be living in developing countries. Inequality in income, wealth, and health may result in growing numbers of older people finding themselves in poverty. Many countries are building contributory pension systems, while large numbers of unemployed young people cannot contribute and will be at risk of poverty when they age.

To meet these challenges, it will be essential that everyone, including immigrants and women, enter the work force. Growing numbers of older people are in good health, have valuable skills and experience and are willing to make a significant contribution to society. Allowing people to stay active as they grow older and to continue contributing to society is key, but at the moment older workers are often confronted with age-linked stereotypes and discrimination. Strict enforcement of fair employment rules is critical, but we also need to transform the culture of the workplace.

As we live longer, we have the opportunity to manage our working lives with more flexibility, handle work with caring for younger and older members of society, while working part-time to supplement pensions. This will help address the fact that, millions of adult workers – often women – are struggling to balance their duties on the job with efforts at home to care for elderly parents. In many cases, the same workers are part of a “sandwich generation” that still supports dependent children (some in their twenties but unemployed). Caregiving responsibilities are one reason that workers retire sooner than they planned. Workplace rules that make room for caregiving demands, including leave policies, can help caregivers hold on to their jobs, and contribute to the broader economy.

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