Eldres posisjon i arbeidslivet ved konjunkturomslag
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- NOVA rapport 
This report is based on analyses of the Norwegian Senior Policy Barometer among employed persons and leaders. Data are collected by telephone interviews for each of seven years, from 2003 to 2009. Samples are nationally representative and consist each year of about 1000 employed persons aged 15 years and above, and about 750 administrative leaders or their deputies from 600 private companies with 10 or more employees, and 150 administrative leaders or their deputies from the public sector. Both for the barometer among employed persons and the barometer among leaders, new samples are drawn each year. Thus, they make up two time series with comparable samples for each of the seven years. In addition, we are including in some analyses results from a poll from February 2009, where leaders were asked three of the same questions as in the Norwegian Senior Policy Barometer. Results from the barometers among leaders from 2003 to 2007 are reported by Solem (2008), and for employed person from 2003 to 2008 by Solem & Mykletun (2009). This report includes data from all the seven years for both employed persons and leaders. The background of this report is the recent changes in global finances; the financial crisis. What is presented in the two earlier reports may look different when the economic situation is turning. However, Norway has managed comparably well under the financial crisis, and have seen only modest increases in unemployment. The economic cycles in Norway are described by Statistics Norway as rising from about 2003 to late 2007. A change in the cycle was seen around the turn of the year 2007/2008. The first signs of an impending crisis were observed in 2007, and the crisis was acute in September 2008 (SSB 2009). The economic cycles described for the period when data for the Norwegian Senior Policy Barometer are collected, offer opportunities for studying connections between labour market changes and the position of older workers. The results indicate that the recession have effects both on opinions (the cognitive element of attitudes), preferences (the affective element), and on behaviour or behavioural dispositions (the behavioural element). Such effects are observed both among leaders and employed persons, and both among seniors and younger workers. Effects are clearer, or detected earlier, in the private than in the public sector. This is expected since the private sector is more directly influenced by economic cycles. The causal chains are not obvious, much has happened over a short period of time, and it is not evident which changes occur first. As mentioned, we see changes first in the private sector, but not earlier among leaders than among employed persons in general, and not earlier in any specific age group. Our observations twelve months apart give the impression of a high degree of simultaneity, which may be the result of mass media communication reaching the majority at the same time. Alternatively, signs of recession could first have affected leaders and increased their scepticism and negative reactions against older workers, and subsequently have lead to changes in older workers’ self-concept and attitudes toward ageing and work. Such a causal path is possible, but probably not a primary path. Wide groups of leaders and common workers seem to take information from the same sources; the mass media, and at the same time. Three observations of leaders’ attitudes six months apart; early September 2008 (just before the financial crisis â€˜exploded’ in mass-media), late February 2009 and early September 2009, show some strong short-term reactions. The behavioural disposition toward accepting that older workers are fired before younger workers in the case of downsizing gain considerably less opposition among leaders in the private sector in February 2009 than in September 2008 and is back to the previous level in September 2009. Firing older workers first is in most cases against the seniority principle, which has legal status in Norwegian working life. There is also an acute, but less dramatic, reaction both in the private and public sector in the agreement to the statement that it is «advantageous to our company if older workers remain in work up to the normal retirement age». Leaders express in February 2009 less interest in keeping older workers than both in September 2008 and in September 2009. Conceptions of the work ability of older workers compared to younger workers do not show acute changes. We find an increasingly less positive opinion of older workers’ work performance from 2007 among leaders in the private sector and the opposite change among leaders in the public sector. In both cases the changes are less dramatic compared to the changes in the behavioural dispositions mention above. This cognitive content of attitudes thus seems to change slower than the behavioural dispositions. It is not possible to establish from the data of the Norwegian Senior Policy Barometer if behaviour changes at the same pace as behavioural dispositions. The finding that the behavioural disposition concerning the seniority principle change back to normal quite fast, may indicate that the behaviour have been less affected. Perhaps the relatively stable positive opinion about older workers’ performance has been a buffer that has facilitated a return of behavioural dispositions back to the previous level. Among workers below 55 years we find much of the same changes in attitudes as among seniors (55 years +). However, in many cases the changes are larger among seniors. This may have many causes, like that seniors may feel more vulnerable when the company need downsizing. It may also be that seniors feel solidarity towards young workers facing possible unemployment. Seniors may find support for a decision to resign by adjusting their conceptions of older workers’ abilities, e.g.: «Young people need the job more, and besides I am less productive then they are». We do not know the strength of this mechanism. Nevertheless, the somewhat larger changes in attitudes among seniors show that they are as flexible in their attitudes, if not more so, as younger workers. Senior workers’ enthusiasm for their work seems unaffected by economic cycles. Their plans for retirement and interest in working also seem to be unaffected up to 2009 when the steady increase from 2003 in the interest for late retirement seems to stop. We see this stop among men aged 55-61 years, but not among women. At the same time, data from Statistics Norway show that the employment rate among men aged 55-64 years peked in 2008 and was falling in 2009. Thus, we find no indication that older workers cling to their jobs due to the financial crisis, a pattern which have been found in the U.S. (Munnell et al. 2009, Helman et al. 2009). In the U.S., this is probably due to the fact that pension funds often are invested in the stock marked, and accordingly funds are lost in bankruptcies and falling rates of exchange. In Norway, pension funds are among the safest investments and risks for the individual pensioner are very low. Policy implications The tripartite agreement on a more including working life (the IA-agreement) which was effective from 2001, renewed in 2006 and again in 2010 for a new four-years period to the end of 2013, have three main objectives; to reduce sickness absence, increase the employment of disabled persons and to voluntarily delay the date of retirement for older workers. The authorities, employers and employees are cooperating in joint efforts on company level and on national level to achieve these goals. By the end of 2009, the objective of increasing the effective retirement age with six months in average, was achieved. The results from the Norwegian Senior Policy Barometer suggest there are reasons to continue to exert strong efforts in stimulating older workers to retire late. The success up to 2009 is not maintained by itself. The inclination of seniors to choose work or retirement seems less sensitive to economic cycles than the behavioural dispositions of leaders, and senior policy may have a solid base in the motivation for work among many seniors, even in recession when the position of older workers is challenged. Also, the behavioural dispositions of leaders to retain older workers seems to change more easily than their opinions of older workers. Stable positive conceptions of older workers may be a solid fundament that is able to bring negative fluctuations in behavioural dispositions back in a positive direction. If this is the case, it is important to reinforce realistic conceptions of older workers and to endorse solid knowledge about advantages and disadvantages of older workers. Because cultural attitudes about ageing and older person are basically negative (Levy 2003), realistic information may sound as exaggerations of positive aspects. However, some aspects are negative. In occupations where short reaction time and physical power is required, most older workers are at a disadvantage. In occupations that empasize experience and expertise, older workers have an advantage. It is important to inform about both positive and negative aspects of older workers’ abilities and work performance in such a way that leaders, seniors and colleagues react with less automatic reflexes based upon built-in negative cultural attitudes.Denne rapporten presenterer analyser av Norsk seniorpolitisk barometer blant yrkesaktive og blant ledere i norsk arbeidsliv fra og med 2003 til og med 2009. I denne perioden har vi hatt oppgangstider fra 2003 til 2007/2008 og konjunkturnedgang fra 2007/2008. Finanskrisa slo til for fullt fra september 2008, og den synes å ha påvirket holdningene til eldre arbeidskraft, men med ulik tyngde og varighet. Virkningene er tydeligere i privat sektor enn i offentlig sektor. Et gjennomgående trekk er at mange av de positive endringene vi så i holdningene til eldre under oppgangkonjunkturen, har stagnert etter at finanskrisa startet. Det er få tilfeller av at positive endringer er reversert, og da har reverseringen oftest hatt en midlertidig karakter. Mye synes også upåvirket av finanskrisa. Det gjelder f.eks. seniorenes arbeidsglede og opplevelse av å mestre jobben. Vi kan se tegn til stagnasjon i interesse for sen pensjonering, i første rekke blant mannlige seniorer. Det betyr at man i det seniorpolitiske arbeidet og i arbeidet med IA-avtalen ikke kan regne med at de senere års positive utvikling vil fortsette av seg selv.