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Ageing and employers’ perceptions of labour costs and productivity: A survey among European employers

Wieteke S. Conen (Department of Law, Economics and Governance, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands and Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI), The Hague, The Netherlands)
Hendrik P. van Dalen (Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI), The Hague, The Netherlands and Department of Economics, Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands)
Kène Henkens (Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI), The Hague, The Netherlands and Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands)

International Journal of Manpower

ISSN: 0143-7720

Article publication date: 7 September 2012

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine employers’ perceptions of changes in the labour cost‐productivity gap due to the ageing of the workforce, the effects of tenure wages and employment protection on the perceived gap, and whether a perceived labour cost‐productivity gap affects employers’ recruitment and retention behaviour towards older workers.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors analyse surveys administered to employers in Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden.

Findings

Approximately half of employers associate the ageing of the personnel with a growing gap between labour costs and productivity. Both the presence of tenure wages and employment protection rules increase the probability of employers perceiving a widening labour cost‐productivity gap due to the ageing of their workforce. A counterfactual shows that even when employment protection and tenure wage systems are abolished, 40 percent of employers expect a net cost increase. The expected labour cost‐productivity gap negatively affects both recruitment and retention of older workers.

Originality/value

In this paper, the wage‐productivity gap is examined through the perceptions of employers using an international comparative survey.

Keywords

Citation

Conen, W.S., van Dalen, H.P. and Henkens, K. (2012), "Ageing and employers’ perceptions of labour costs and productivity: A survey among European employers", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 33 No. 6, pp. 629-647. https://doi.org/10.1108/01437721211261796

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited