100 years of life-long learning

Nieuws | de redactie
29 november 2012 | Europe’s problems with an ageing population won’t be solved just by raising the retirement age. Europe has to rethink society and the organization of working life. Investing in life-long learning and the feminization of male working patterns might hold the solution.

Top-scientists, policy makers and representatives from economy and civil society potential solutions for an ageing Europe at the conference “The Times of Our Lives”, organized within the context of the European Year for Active Ageing.

More and more flexible work

“When a child born today knows it will most probably celebrate its 100th birthday, would it want to live its life the way we used to?”, James W. Vaupel, Director at Max. Together with colleagues, he developed a work redistribution concept: A trade-off between an extended work life beyond the current age of retirement and reduced working hours in earlier periods of life.

Axel Börsch-Supan, Director of the Munich Center for the Economics of Aging, is skeptical that such a concept alone is realizable in times of economic crisis. From his point of view, labor market problems need to be resolved at first hand: “It is important to create more labor. Entire countries are going down because of youth unemployment. And we need more flexibility regarding working hours. There are people who work full time, some work part time, a lot of people do not work at all. And there is nothing in between.”

Lack of information for young people

At the end of the European Year for Active Ageing the actual labor market participation of those between age 55 and 64 has still not reached the 50 percent goal in any country. Or, as Graziella Caselli, Professor of Demography at Sapienza University of Rome, stated: “The reality of the labor market is exclusion of employment for older people, particularly for women.”

Francesco C. Billari, Head of the Department of Sociology at Oxford University, criticized the lack of information for young people: “Most of them have no idea that they will be so old and therefore they do not plan properly”. He emphasized that a redistribution of working life cannot be done without a gender and family perspective. “There must be a redistribution of paid and unpaid work. Domestic labor is still unequally divided between the genders. We need a feminization of male working patterns.”

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