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Older people work longer hours

Older people in Europe are increasingly working. In Germany, the employment rate of 55 to 64-year-olds has increased by ten percentage points to 72 percent in 2021 within ten years, as the Federal Statistical Office in Wiesbaden announced today. Throughout the EU, the employment rate rose even more sharply in the same period, by 13 percentage points, but it was below the level in Germany: the EU average for 55 to 64-year-olds in 2021 was 60 percent. Only Sweden (77 percent) and Denmark (72 percent) have higher rates than Germany.

Even after the age of 64, people in Germany are more often still in work, partly because the retirement age is gradually increasing to 67. In the group of 65 to 69 year olds, 17 percent still had a job in this country compared to the EU average of 13 percent. In some northern European countries, however, the rate is significantly higher, for example up to 32 percent in Estonia, 29 percent in Latvia and 28 percent in Sweden.

Higher qualification leads to longer employment

In principle, people with high qualifications are employed longer than those with low professional qualifications. In addition to increases in the retirement age, the statisticians also cite the increasing level of education in many EU countries as a reason for the development. Because: "Higher educational qualifications often go hand in hand with longer employment," explained the statistics office. According to this, among the over 64-year-olds in Germany, 13 percent of the highly qualified were still employed, and among the low-skilled only 4.5 percent. The picture is similar at EU level.

The demographic development is also reflected in future shortage occupations. For example, within the ten years observed, the proportion of employees in the age group 55+ rose from 15 to 23 percent in nursing and from 17 to 24 percent in the natural science MINT professions.

Greater participation of older people a solution?

In the course of the shortage of skilled workers, a greater participation of older people in the labor market was recently also discussed politically. Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) had asked companies in December not to push older people onto the sidelines. The shortage of skilled workers threatens to become a brake on growth. The fact that many companies no longer hire people over 60 is an attitude that "we can therefore no longer afford," he told the "Bild am Sonntag".

However, the Wiesbaden statisticians do not see this as the solution to the problem: "In the future, higher labor force participation among older people will hardly be able to compensate for the fact that the younger population is declining and there are therefore significantly fewer workers in these age groups," explained Frank Schuller, labor market expert in statistics federal office. The statistics authority expects the existing shortage situation to worsen. In the next 15 years, around 13 million workers in Germany were allowed to reach statutory retirement age, which is almost 30 percent of the workforce in 2021.

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