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What Makes Older Employees Attractive?


Publication number: 2012-63
Authors: S. van der Werff, M. Volkerink, A. Heyma, P. Bisschop
Commissioned by: Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation
Published by: SEO Economic Research
ISBN: 978-90-6733-660-4

Research shows that older job applicants have substantially less chance of finding employment than younger ones, even if they are equally suitable for a vacancy. The right level of education and relevant work experience can however largely offset the effect of age. This emerges from a conjoint analysis based on a survey of over a thousand employers, in which managers were asked to choose between hypothetical candidates for a vacancy twelve times. Various options for making older job seekers more attractive to employers were examined. In the short term the government measures that are successful for older applicants are at the expense of the chances for young applicants. In the long term the higher chances of older applicants being accepted do result in additional jobs, for one thing because the total labour supply is increased.

This appears to be due mainly to uncertainty about the productivity of older applicants. The mobility bonus for older benefit recipients, extending the probationary period for older employees and a trial placement scheme for older benefit recipients could therefore make older applicants more attractive. Measures designed to reduce the financial risk of sick leave, such as the no-risk policy under the Unemployment Insurance Act and curtailing the sick-pay period for older workers, do not seem to have any effect on the attractiveness of older applicants.

Meanwhile ageing is creating more and more opportunities for older people on the labour market: organizations with a larger proportion of older employees and older managers are much more likely to take on older applicants.


Category: 2012, Siemen van der Werff, Arjan Heyma, Paul Bisschop, Labour & Education