How Job Options Narrow for Older Workers by Socioeconomic Status

Source: Matthew S. Rutledge, Steven A. Sass, and Jorge D. Ramos-Mercado, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, IB#16-13, August 2016

From the key findings:
The ability of older job-changers to find “suitable” employment affects both their current income and their ability to work long enough to secure an adequate retirement income. One measure of suitable employment is the range of occupations available to them. This brief, based on a recent study, assesses the extent to which occupational options narrow for workers as they age from their early-fifties to their mid-sixties and whether the pattern varies by gender or socioeconomic status, as measured by education level.1 The discussion proceeds as follows. The first section reviews the previous literature. The second section discusses the data and methodology. The third section presents findings on the narrowing of job options and the associated change in wages. The fourth section reviews changes in older workers’ access to occupations since the mid-1990s, including differences by gender and education. The final section concludes that job options decline with age, but the outlook is generally not as bad as it used to be, particularly for better-educated women. Further, once the analysis accounts for differences in job characteristics, “old-person” jobs pay no less than other jobs.