Dispatches From The Aging Front (Oy, My Back!)

There’s bad news.  And more bad news.

And then good news!

Ruth Marcus, of the Washington Post, wrote that “When my husband and I visited the financial planner recently, we were advised to amass enough retirement savings to last through age 95. OK, but I’m not planning to spend 30 years sitting around and knitting, as much as I like to knit. My mom, soon to be 82, is a crackerjack tax accountant.”

Knit, Sew, Girl, Female, Make, Produce(Do these look like the hands of a retiree?)

Unfortunately, she noted that:

“A working paper last year from the National Bureau of Economic Research found ‘unambiguous evidence of age discrimination for female job applicants.’ Economists sent out phony resumes, from older (64-to-66), middle-aged (49-51) and young (29-31) workers for retail sales, administrative assistant, janitorial and security guard jobs, ultimately ‘applying’ for more than 40,000 positions. They found ‘strong overall evidence of age discrimination, with callback rates statistically significantly lower by about 18 percent for middle-aged workers, and about 35 percent for older workers.’ But the evidence was much more ‘consistent and compelling’ for older women.”

No better news, I’m afraid, from the land down under.

Boy, Facepalm, Child, Youth, Exasperated

In the Sydney Morning Herald, Catherine Armitage discussed age discrimination, and noted that “Ongoing, systemic age and disability workforce discrimination is not only a massive drain on the economy but has devastating consequences for individuals,” according to a national inquiry led by Age and Disability Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan.

“Roughly a quarter of the population are 55 and over but they make up only 16 per cent of the total workforce. Although 83.2 per cent of people without a disability participate in the workforce, only 53.4 per cent of people with a disability do. Employment rates of people over 55 drop off sharply, to only 12.7 per cent for people over 65. But in the past decade, the number of people over 45 who say they won’t retire before 70 has risen dramatically, from 8 per cent to 23 per cent.”

Ok, you said that there was good news?!  Didn’t you?

Here it is:  “the lump of labor fallacy?”

Isn’t that better?

Girl, Child, Laugh, Happy, Face, Smile(Now you’re getting me mad!)

Christopher Farrell writes in The New York Times about “three pernicious myths about the United States economy and aging.”

His conclusion?   “One way to help get the economy out of its rut would be to embrace policies that encourage older Americans to stay employed and for employers to appreciate their aging work force.”

So what are the three myths?   I’ll give you two:

Myth No. 1: Older adults don’t work, so they weigh down the economy.

Myth No. 2: Older workers are not productive. “There is no evidence older workers aren’t as good at their jobs,” said Laura Carstensen, director of the Stanford Center on Longevity.

And the third myth?

Look it up yourself: am I supposed to do all the work? I’m not getting any younger!

Baby, Boy, Child, Childhood, Computer


(BTW: when you look it up, you’ll find out what the “lump of labor fallacy” is — for extra credit).

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Richard Cohen

Richard B. Cohen is a partner in the New York City office of FisherBroyles, LLP, a national law firm. Richard Cohen has litigated and arbitrated complex corporate, commercial and employment disputes for more than 35 years, and is a trusted advisor to business owners and in-house counsel both in the United States and internationally. His clients have included Fortune 100 companies, domestic and foreign commercial and investment banks, Pacific-rim corporations and real estate development companies, as well as start-up businesses throughout the United States. Email Richard at [email protected]