Age discrimination not about who has the job

Font Size:

The short answer is no – factually and emphatically no! But here’s a longer answer that explains why this damaging claim is simply untrue.

There’s a dangerous intergenerational conflict bubbling away that threatens to diminish all age groups and benefit none. It’s the claim that older Australians are clinging onto work too long and, in so doing, damaging employment prospects for younger workers. This is one of the front and centre claims in Jennifer Rayner’s recent book Generation Less: How Australia is cheating the young. As you will guess from the title, this book is unlikely to offer a ringing endorsement of older Australians. Which is fine. But it makes some very sad claims which are both untrue and destructive. In particular, when it comes to jobs, Ms Rayner is forthright in her statement:

“…having more people working into their 60s and beyond also comes at a very real cost to younger Australians. In earlier years, our parents’ generation moved steadily through pay rises and promotions as people filed out of work at 55 and freed up the ranks above them. But having got old themselves, they’re not giving up on those great careers. (YourLifeChoices italicised for emphasis) That leaves me and my peers butting up against a grey ceiling that compresses our potential and frustrates our ambitions. Worse, it may well see us earning less throughout key periods of our working lives” (page 35).

Resisting a strong impulse to say ‘diddums’, it must be noted from the outset that this statement generalises all levels and layers of the workforce to ‘old’ and ‘young’. And in discussing possible wealth creation, completely ignores the fact that older workers have not had access to compulsory superannuation for a sufficient time to build reasonable retirement savings. Younger workers, by the very fact of their youth, will have sufficient time to accrue such savings.

But these points are a distraction from the real issue underlying the issue of unemployment, underemployment and who is hurting the most.

Australia’s official unemployment rate is currently 5.7 per cent. But this is a false measure, based on the number of people who have worked a minimum of one hour in the reference week (!).

It does not take into account the underemployed (estimated by Roy Morgan Research to be closer to nine per cent) – those workers who cannot get as many work hours as they would like or need, or those who have simply given up on the hope that they will ever get work again. Many older Australians fall into this category and are now described as ‘retired’ despite the fact that their preference is to be working.

But much of the current debate – including Ms Rayner’s conclusions – fails to centre on the difficulty older workers face in retaining or gaining meaningful paid work. This has been well documented by the Brotherhood of St Laurence, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and in YourLifeChoices own Willing to Work survey responses.

Instead the popular media approach focuses on the way ‘greedy, rich baby boomers’ are ruining opportunities for future generations in the housing market, the share of government welfare and the job market. So YourLifeChoices has researched the question of who is taking jobs from whom in the labour market and found the notion of ‘stealing’ jobs is founded on false logic.

You simply cannot ‘rob a job’ from someone else, according to Professor Simon Biggs at the University of Melbourne. “It seems as though it should be true, but the ‘lump of labour’ fallacy has been researched and proves that there is no set amount of jobs in the Australian economy or any other”.

The lump of labour fallacy to which Professor Biggs refers is well described in an article in the Buttonwood column in the Economist magazine:

“So why don’t the oldies keep the youngsters out of jobs? For the same reason that women don’t keep men out of jobs. When people work for a living, they earn money. They spend that money on goods and services that are produced by other people, young and old, male and female.”

So it’s time to dispel the myth that there exists a finite pool of jobs and one worker will be hired at another worker’s expense. In fact, research in the UK suggests that extending the working life of everyone, by one year, would add 1 per cent, or £55 billion to the UK GDP. Said UK older workers advocate, Dr Ros Altmann “the idea that older workers took jobs from the young is a myth”. In Australia, according to research by the Centre of Excellence for Population Ageing Research (CEPAR) GDP could be improved by 2.4 per cent if all non-participating people over 55 who wanted to work, could do so.

Rather than slavishly follow the currently fashionable view that one generation is taking all from another, as Professor Biggs notes, the biggest unemployment challenges are more closely aligned to a struggle between those in work and those out. “Those in work tend to be experienced. Those who fall out of work during a recession are the less skilled and less experienced.”

This can often affect younger workers, but with a decline in traditional manufacturing industries, it can also have a major impact on more mature workers.

And once out of work, as we have previously reported, it is the older workers (over 45!) who take twice as long to be rehired.

Professor Biggs also refers to the ‘precarity’ of work in Australia and around the globe, where increasing casualisation, lower wages and higher incidence of part-time contracts adversely affect all ages and women in particular. This financial disadvantage, of course, becomes entrenched in retirement when lower lifetime wages result in lower super savings which, in turn, translate into a far lower standard of living in retirement.

So let’s agree to get over the lump of labour fallacy for once and for all. More people working means more income, more money flowing into the economy and a higher likelihood of jobs for all generations. Now wouldn’t that be good?

What do you think? Have the economists got it right? Or do you believe different generations are competing for one pool of jobs? Do you have personal experience of this work issue that you would like to share?

Read more about this subject:
UK Daily Telegraph 
Reuters
Munnell & Wu  
Simon Biggs on old age precarity

Join YourLifeChoices today
and get this free eBook!

Join
By joining YourLifeChoices you consent that you have read and agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy

Written by Kaye Fallick

104 Comments

Total Comments: 104
  1. 0
    0

    The entitlement age for a pension for women has risen from 60 to 65 & soon will be 67 or even 70 , so why would anyone stop work earlier than this even if they’d like to do so?

  2. 0
    0

    Bloody hell, what are the older generation supposed to do? Work until you drop dead, now that’s ok because you won’t be ‘leaching’ off the welfare system, although you are apparently keeping some young person out of work. Then you have the option to retire after a long life of work and no handouts, but that means, you guessed it putting your hand out for the pension, looks like the drop dead option is again the preferred choice. Do these morons that write that drivel while constantly playing the blame game ever take a long hard look at themselves? Get off your own lazy backsides, leave the older generation alone to work if they are able to and if they are lucky enough to have their health, and if not they can retire and hopefully enjoy what’s left of their lives in peace. They have earned it.

    • 0
      0

      Very well said Margie…brilliant

    • 0
      0

      **standing ovation**

    • 0
      0

      Bloody hell !! Me and the missus are currently stripping very old wallpaper off the walls of our house (which we own, after working a full life each until the current retirement age) When the paper is off, we rest for a couple of days/week and paint, over a couple of days/weeks. I’ll tell you, it is arduous and just about killing us, you should hear the creaks and groans and moans BUT we can’t afford to have ‘professionals’ in to do it. Gosh, I wish we were still working fulltime ………… Hah !! Not 😉 So grateful that we haven’t had to (physically) work past the official retirement age. Good luck to the poor buggas who are going to have to (physically) work until their late 60’s and/or 70’s 🙁

    • 0
      0

      Well said Margie!!

      I agree totally. According to some, “old” people who hold onto their houses are totally responsible for young families not being able to buy houses with yards!!! We certainly are a selfish generation NOT.
      Often men and women, selfishly holding onto jobs, are merely trying to support themselves. We didn’t have the advantage of universal superannuation throughout our working lives, indeed, universal superannuation became applicable to my chosen profession in the year I was deemed “too disabled to work” and let go. That meant I was relegated to the ranks of those who are leeching of the younger generation when I had no alternative than to accept welfare.
      As to our generation selfishly holding onto our properties, those who are fortunate to own a home bought in what was in the day considered to be “the sticks”, and worked hard to pay off their mortgages and raise their family. It’s not their fault that their homes are now encompassed by the city sprawl. As to preventing young people from getting homes with yards, from what I’ve witnessed when these properties do come up for sale, the house is razed and the property is filled with townhouses each with a tiny patch of grass (if they’re lucky)…hardly a place for children to play.
      So to the younger generation who view us as selfish for attempting to survive, remember that you too will reach our age, and no doubt you will be judged in the same way we are being judged now…perhaps more harshly!
      Instead of looking for someone to blame for your not having a house, or job, leave your computer and other digital attachments and go out and look!!!! Jobs don’t come to you, you have to actually go out and find them.

    • 0
      0

      Agree with ALL the above. WE did the best WE could and finally succeeded now it is THEIR turn to put a nose to the grindstone, put their best foot forward, shoulder to the wheel and go forth and make something of THEIR lives through THEIR efforts. Stop blaming others, get your finger out and get on with it !! Oh. for the author of the book – ‘It is well, when judging anyone, to remember he/she is judging you with the same godlike and superior impartiality’………..just sayin’ 😀

  3. 0
    0

    I still owe on my mortgage which I got from divorce my super is not enough to last 3 years and now I can’t get a pension at 60 because I have to work till I’m 67!!! I’m an AIN in aged care and when I tell younger ones this not one of them wants my job… So go to hell and let me get on with trying to live my life even with all the changes these governments are trying to put in my bloody way….

  4. 0
    0

    its rubbish coming from someone who is full of crap older workers are more reliable know what they are doing don’t have to be watched every 5 minutes and are not on drugs or ice and don’t take sickies all of the time and don’t say I’m not doing this or that that is why most employers prefer older workers to young ones.

  5. 0
    0

    Har! Just where are these older employees? I do not of one in my entire district. The only ’employees’ are self employed.

    • 0
      0

      I just quit a club bus job and then applied for another within three days… I also doubled as a sort of security guy since I used to do that…. but hey – at my age? It’s not like I’m 48 and offered to be first out the door over East Timor, is it?

      There are plenty of older people who work. You must live in Outer Booritupya or somewhere with a population of 6.

  6. 0
    0

    When I was recruiting for a retail business some years ago, the applicants would be a mix of ages, gender, current employment status. When I short-listed the applicants, I would find currently employed would far out weigh unemployed. Not a conscious choice by me, but rather based on how they presented. Too often, the unemployed job seeker does not know how, or lacks the confidence, to present their best attributes.

    • 0
      0

      It has oft been said “its easier to get a job when you have a job”.

    • 0
      0

      I agree mike syngen. Having been unemployed for a time, I found that I was very nervous in interviews but when I applied for other jobs while I was employed, I had a more relaxed demeanour. I suppose that when you are already in employment there is something to fall back on should you be an unsuccessful applicant.

    • 0
      0

      So it’s got nothing to do with skills and ability and results – but all to do with interview ability? I am terrible at interviews – I’m shy and not forthcoming about myself and abilities – but when I worked in security with a couple of ex-Army officers managing – they knew without thought that I was their first choice for a one-man job.

      You just failed your first test as a manager while hitting directly upon the malaise of our current society and economy and workplace.

      You might as well just employ the blond with the best tots…… and get it over with. See how well that goes.

      To paraphrase Basil Plumley (Sam Elliott) in “We Were Soldiers Once”:-

      “Maybe it’s about time you got yourself one o’ those Managers”.

      “Time comes when I need one o’ them – there’ll be plenty of ’em lyin’ on the ground!”

    • 0
      0

      Mike I worked for a group called Skill Share and was completely amazed that so many young people who had supposedly been educated enough to pass the HSC were not able to compose a Resume’ showing their abilities etc. and this worked against them when applying for positions also I came across a Mens Wear shop that required the HSC for a shop assistant. Where does it stop or start.

    • 0
      0

      TREBOR, I know where you are coming from and agree, before retiring I was occasionally on panels responsible for employing people. Too many times I came across other members who actually thought that it was their job to trip people up at interviews rather than get the best idea about an individuals experience and work ethic. I also thought that too much emphasis was put on the written application part of the process as it was very clear that in a majority of cases the applications were not written by the applicants.
      A whole industry has been created around employment management and I think in most cases we would be better served if the majority of hiring and firing was left to local managers.
      People should be able to access help with their Resumes’ but they should not have them written for them.

  7. 0
    0

    The con from both sides of politics is all about bludgers at the bottom of the heap. The truth is that THERE ARE NO JOBS. So we play jobs musical chairs.
    I fail to understand WHY genY believes that their parents should be put outside the igloo so that they can have a job. What we need is a government which creates real jobs…and the first part of that is reinstalling trade barriers. It may be nice paying cheap third world labour rates but the downside is what has been happening in our country for decades: the closing down of industries with the resultant removal of jobs from our country to the third world. That was always going to end badly.

    • 0
      0

      There parents should have used the contraception that was around back then instead of creating accidents. Ha ha ha

    • 0
      0

      There parents should have used the contraception that was around back then instead of creating accidents. Ha ha ha

    • 0
      0

      “The truth is that THERE ARE NO JOBS.”

      Just NOT true Mick. There are apprenticeships unfilled because those that traditionally taken up those jobs are no longer willing to put the effort in (low pay over 3-4 years) even with the reward of a 6 figure salary at the end of it. Have you tried to get a plumber or electrician recently? Just a few days ago Colin Fassnidge and other chefs and hoteliers were commenting that the youth they see only want to ‘use tweezers and put dots on plates’ and baulk at actually having to peel potatoes and chop veges – in other words do the hard yards. In one case there were 600 positions available in one chain and they were having to advertise overseas because they couldn’t get young Australians to do the work.

      Yes I agree that ‘traditional’ jobs may be declining but just as those industries move off, so new ones rise to take their place. It was ever thus. The transition is inevitable and whilst painful in the short term opportunities are there for the taking by those with a will to do so.

    • 0
      0

      The devil is always in the detail KSS. Sure Australians have become lazy at the bottom end. Easier to pick up government money (from the rest of us) than contribute to the nation.
      You are spot on that new jobs are being created. What you also need to look at is the export jobs we have destroyed and the statistics which are not even close to the facts because they do not count people who work 1 hour a week as being unemployed, nor do they include people who have given up and do not even register.
      I still maintain that the ‘old days’ where you walked into a job are gone. These days you get 20 people applying for a job and employers do not even do you the courtesy of writing back.
      My daughter is in management and one of her complaints is that ‘Australians’, the ones who can speak English and are able to construct a sentence are in short supply. Apparently mostly ethnic Chinese, Indian and middle Eastern people apply for office jobs. Not dinky di Aussies. That is a real worry and maybe tells a story in its own right.

    • 0
      0

      KSS – got a link there?

    • 0
      0

      I’ve been in Central NSW for a fortnight and they certainly have a problem finding staff on properties out there.

      Admittedly you do have to have some experience with either bikes, horses or dogs but the other workers are then quite willing to help you learn.

      But it is hard work and idleness is a dreadful weakness.

      Interestingly Sir William Beverage, who first designed The Welfare State never imagined it to be available without any effort.

      He planned it as a solution to ‘want’, but as a partnership between state and individual.Security offered and in return service and contribution.

      Want was not the worst of his enemies which included, disease, ignorance,squalor and idleness.

      The entitlement culture was deplored as was hesitation to contribute with either labour or taxes.

  8. 0
    0

    This kind of mentality erupts and gets worse with population growth. Rats in plague proportions defecate on left over food they can no longer consume to leave nothing behind for the rest.

  9. Profile Photo
    0
    0

    I work in aged care it’s been a career not something just because I can’t do anything else or because my visa says I have to. Work is not just turning up and checking your mobile phone every 5 minutes, saying ” it’s not your job ” saying your being bullied because you are ask several times to actually do something, that’s why there is a shortage of aged care workers, pull out the seniors still working and the aged care will just rely on these people who don’t really want to be there, what young person wants this work for poor pay, penalty rates in jeopardy, and both physical and mentally strain. My generation have a work ethic as long as someone over 60/65 and they work for you ,you are bloody lucky.

  10. 0
    0

    The simple fact is there will be less jobs available going forward, as technology and robotics automate more and more occupations.

    A key element is to skew the tax system, so that corporates benefitting from the reduced people costs, pay more tax rather than less. Possibly via transaction tax rather than a tax on profits, which is subject to rorting.

    A universal basic income (UBI) payable to all citizens, would enable those who couldn’t, or chose not to work, to live basically. Whilst those who wished to better themselves could find skilled work or start small businesses.

    The UBI would replace all other benefits eg. if you want to have children you would need to source additional income to cover your increased costs.

    A flat income tax/transaction tax of say 15% would encourage skilled workers to earn more, or start businesses. We need a new approach to the problems, not tinkering around the edges.

    • 0
      0

      “The simple fact is there will be less jobs available going forward…”
      I have to disagree there Ronin. Whilst there may be less demand for what some may call ‘traditional’ jobs e.g. making stuff or digging stuff up, new (as yet unimagined) jobs will rise to take their place. This is what is happening now in Australia. The move from a manufacturing and mining base to a more service and intellectual property based market is inevitable and whilst painful in transition cannot be avoided in the long term.

      “…..Possibly via transaction tax rather than a tax on profits, ….” a 15% GST by another name! Look how well that turned out!

    • Profile Photo
      0
      0

      Very interesting Ronin. I see merit in your proposal. Perhaps as an alternative consideration, how about a complete turnaround to tax logic, lets suggest an Expenditure Tax – on everthing; for everyone, including companies/businesses. Other than the obvious consumables, services etc, anyone buying shares in a company is taxed. Not at all sure about the percentage but then there exists extremely well paid professionals capable of a determination. I can just imagine the Pollies and Taxation Dept personnel turning cartwheels once they’ve been enlightened.

    • 0
      0

      You are not informed KSS. The prediction is that half of all jobs will disappear with the advent of robots. The timeframe given for this is pretty short as well so watch out genYs taking out a big mortgage.

    • 0
      0

      They day you can screw enough out of automated corporations to pay for the society they thrive in – get back to me and I can throw in a lovely hardly used Harbour Bridge….

    • 0
      0

      Only thing TREBOR is this is a double edged sword. What the wealthy who own the game are too arrogant and dumb to understand is that workers who have no money cannot buy their goods. So guess what? Justice.

    • 0
      0

      “Half of all jobs will disappear” Mick ‘they’ have been saying that for the past 30 years or more. Where is our more leisure time that computers were meant to bring us? As I said before you may have a case in some of the more traditional jobs (in Australia anyway) but what you fail to acknowledge is that other jobs come along to take their place – sometimes in fields we cannot imagine until they are here. Lamenting all the time over outdated industries producing products people don’t want (Holden car anyone?) is as futile as bemoaning industrial change from the horse and cart to the car.

    • 0
      0

      Indeed, MICK, I’ve long touted that exact position – a vibrant and prosperous economy is one in which the majority of people have the wherewithal to purchase the majority of goods and thus keep the economy going.

      Keating slugged us with the fanciful ‘over-heated economy’ line – meaning the peons were getting too much and could afford stuff too much and a fat peasant is always lazy and gets out of line… uppity like…. so the idea that an economy is there to provide prosperity for the majority is not just a ‘rightists’ idea designed using the politics of envy, which in this case states that a peon getting too much while only being a peon is just unfair….

      Laughable all these ideas from such dim bulbs as Thatcher, Reagan, Howard, Keating, Hockey.. sorry if the predominance seems to be on the ‘right’ – that’s just how it is…. while the underlying issue is that some in our ‘civilised’ society imagine themselves to have an absolute sense of entitlement to all they see and want, whereas others have no such privilege.

      Bring on the tumbrils….

    • 0
      0

      “Half of all jobs will disappear” Mick ‘they’ have been saying that for the past 30 years or more. “

      And they have KSS – we now have a minimum of 1.6 times MORE workers available for full time work since 1983 – from the moment Affirmative Action came into play – plus we’ve seen a massive downturn in actual productive work here in favour or more ‘user-friendly’ “service work”, and a massive diminution of production of the ‘finished goods’ that airhead Gillard ranted so loudly would become the province of ‘middle class Asians’. Never a more clear example of politicians have no idea at all.

      So what we have is 1.6 times more available workers, rising costs of existence, a shrinking jobs market, vanishing production that creates jobs, competition with ‘markets’ that employ people at $2 a day, and the increasing prevalence of part-time casual….

      What’s not to see about Jobs Vanishing?

      Add to that the ascendancy of the single parent family and the need to sustain that demographic – and you are looking at a disaster of major proportions, since a single income family is required to compete with the MADIF and the current ‘housing investors’ etc – and as we can see – simply cannot do so. when even MADIFs at the lower end of the scale cannot do so.

Load More Comments

FACEBOOK COMMENTS



SPONSORED LINKS

continue reading

Seniors Finance

Read this before buying candles for Christmas

Gary Mortimer, Queensland University of Technology and Jana Bowden, Macquarie University Christmas marks a peak in consumerism across the West....

Health news

Climate change means Australia faces more heatwave deaths

Experts are warning that heatwaves present a greater risk to public health than bushfires. Heat-related illness is our "silent killer",...

Food

Dairy-free Banana Ice Cream Cheesecake with Blueberry Compote

Nadiya Hussain has become more aware of her dairy intake, saying: "We need to do our bit - I know...

Finance

Supermarkets urged to stop promoting unhealthy foods

Supermarkets have been seen by many, particularly older Australians, as somewhat of a saviour throughout these strange days, but a...

Health news

What a home DNA test can’t tell you

Genetic testing is easier and more popular than ever. Swab tests and saliva tests can be sent to your home,...

Wellbeing

Social connection boosts fitness app use

Most of us have experienced the benefits of exercising with a friend or loved one, it's more fun and it...

Health news

Massive blood test trial offers hope of earlier cancer diagnoses

One blood test could detect 50 forms of cancers if the trial of a liquid biopsy undertaken by the British...

COVID-19

The trends from 2020 that support a positive outlook in retirement

For most of us, the pandemic changed our lives in a big way. We were forced to dig deep and...

LOADING MORE ARTICLE...