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Does it pay to be productive? The case of age groups

Alessandra Cataldi (Department of Economics, Università di Roma “La Sapienza”, Rome, Italy)
Stephan Kampelmann (SBS‐EM (CEB, DULBEA), Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium)
François Rycx (SBS‐EM (CEB, DULBEA), Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium)

International Journal of Manpower

ISSN: 0143-7720

Article publication date: 8 June 2012




The purpose of this paper is to evaluate empirically the relationship between workforce age, wage and productivity at the firm level.


Panel data techniques are applied to Belgian data on private sector workers and firms during 1999‐2006.


Results (robust to various potential econometric issues, including unobserved firm heterogeneity, endogeneity and state dependence) suggest that older workers are significantly less productive than prime age and young workers. In contrast, the productivity of middle‐aged workers is not found to be significantly different compared to young workers. Findings further indicate that average hourly wages within firms increase significantly with workers’ age. Overall, this leads to the conclusion that young (older) workers appear to be “underpaid” (“overpaid”).


These findings contribute to the growing literature on how the workforce age structure affects productivity and wages.



Cataldi, A., Kampelmann, S. and Rycx, F. (2012), "Does it pay to be productive? The case of age groups", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 33 No. 3, pp. 264-283.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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