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Older workers aren't crowding out young people

RICHARD Ramsey's comments (Belfast Telegraph, Nov 13) in which he said that "older generations are increasingly snuffing out employment opportunities for (younger people)" are at odds with findings from a report I published in March entitled Working Longer in Northern Ireland: Valuing an Ageing Workforce.

Northern Ireland is an ageing society, with life expectancy growing at an unprecedented rate - something worth celebrating.

More employers are seeing the value that older workers can bring to the workforce. Since 2008, employment rates for people aged 50-64, and those over 65, have increased year on year.

There is a strong economic case for supporting more older people to remain in employment for longer. My research has found that economic output for Northern Ireland could increase by a staggering £2.3bn by 2037, which equates to an additional 4.4%, if employment rates for the over-65s continue to increase.

It is misleading to suggest that because more older people are remaining in the workplace that this is at the expense of jobs for young people. The crowding out argument is based on the premise that there are a fixed number of jobs in an economy - an argument that a number of economists have termed the "lump of labour fallacy". These economists disagree that there is a set amount of labour because over time the number of jobs will change in line with technological improvements which ultimately increase demand for labour throughout the economy (Munnell and Wu, 2013).

CLAIRE KEATINGE

Commissioner for Older People

for Northern Ireland

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