Productivity peaks in your 50s

Employees in their 50s and above are not less productive than younger colleagues. Not employing workers after 50 sacrifices productive potential for both businesses and the UK economy.

  • A growing number of studies provide robust evidence to counter the preconception that productivity declines from a mid-career peak.
  • New studies show that productivity actually peaks in the mid-50s and then stays at a high and stable level through to your 60s at least.
  • A 2010 study by the German Institute for the Study of Labour shows that labour productivity increases steadily from the beginning of employment through to a peak at age 50-54 and remains stable to at least 60.
  • Even after 60, the evidence suggests that productivity can remain high, although more data and analysis is needed here.
  • The full report can be found here.

High level reasoning peaks in your 50s

Research indicates that, while our various competencies may develop differently, reasoning and other high level skills may peak in your 50s.

  • Research published by the American National Academy of Sciences shows that people over 50 make more use of higher-order reasoning. They are able to understand multiple perspectives, allow for compromise and recognise the limits of understanding.
  • Social reasoning improves with age.
  • People over 50 may therefore be particularly well-placed to fill certain high level public and business roles such as those involving legal decision-making, counselling and intergroup negotiations.
  • The full report can be seen here.

50+ workers are effective with information technology

Contrary to frequently held assumptions, research shows that over 50s are effective with information technology at work and using a computer can enhance their productivity.

  • A 2008 study by the German Centre for European Economic Research found that having employees over the age of 50 does not lower a firm’s information technology enabled productivity.
  • The study shows that employees over 50 are effective with information technology and confirms that employees in this age group who use computers have higher productivity.
  • Against the backdrop of our ageing population, the study points to the good news that an ageing workforce can support technological progress.
  • The full report can be found here.

We all lose out if we lose over 50s from the workforce

Workers over 50 have clear productive potential and demonstrated ability to capitalise on technological developments.

  • If businesses fail to retain, recruit and develop workers over the age of 50, they risk losing comparative advantage and potential profit.
  • At the national level, we risk leaving unrealised potential for additional economic growth.
  • It has been estimated that halving the employment gap between older workers and those in their 40s could boost current annual GDP by between 1 and 3 per cent.

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