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LFS User Group Meeting 6 December 2005 Flexible working amongst the over-50s: current patterns and options for the future Wendy Loretto The Management.

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Presentation on theme: "LFS User Group Meeting 6 December 2005 Flexible working amongst the over-50s: current patterns and options for the future Wendy Loretto The Management."— Presentation transcript:

1 LFS User Group Meeting 6 December 2005 Flexible working amongst the over-50s: current patterns and options for the future Wendy Loretto The Management School and Economics The University of Edinburgh

2 LFS User Group Meeting 6 December 2005 Introduction EC targets to increase employment rates of older workers UK: past focus on encouraging the unemployed Now focus is increasingly on delaying retirement Flexible working as one way Increased flexibility and older workers ~ downshifting ~ bridge jobs ~ return for unemployed, carers But little is known about situations and motivations of older persons

3 LFS User Group Meeting 6 December 2005 Introduction Review of flexible work undertaken for EOC as part of its GFI into part-time and flexible work Aim: to investigate the patterns of flexible working among older workers (those aged 50+) Gendered patterns of working (and retirement)? Data obtained from LFS Spring 2004 (GB) Flexible working encompasses: numerical, contractual, locational and temporal flexibility (Dex & McCulloch 1995) Decided to include everyone over 50 Represent two-fifths of adult population of GB

4 LFS User Group Meeting 6 December 2005 Economic activity

5 LFS User Group Meeting 6 December 2005 Womens employment as a proportion of mens

6 LFS User Group Meeting 6 December 2005 Employment by industry and occupation Well-established gender patterns: ~ health and social work vs. manufacturing ~ public vs. private sector ~ admin/sec vs. managerial ~ younger women in personal service, sales Older womens employment differs from that of older men Older womens employment differs from that of younger women

7 LFS User Group Meeting 6 December 2005 Numerical flexibility: Part-time working

8 LFS User Group Meeting 6 December 2005 Reasons for working part-time 85% of men, 94% of women, do not want full-time job Steady increase in proportion of men working part-time voluntarily across all ages But for women of all ages, large majority do not want to work full-time Men of all ages tend to offer financial reasons for working part-time Women tend to work PT: to spend more time with family Evidence of grandparenting responsibilities

9 LFS User Group Meeting 6 December 2005 Characteristics of part-time workers Logistic regression - separate models for men and women Examined: GB region, marital status, housing tenure, long-term illness/disability, educational qualifications, sector, occupational status, age. Confirmed age effect for men Regional differences are gendered Non-marrieds (especially women) less likely to work PT Owning house outright most likely to work PT Disabled (especially men) more likely to work PT Educational attainment had more effect on men Sector and occupational effects also gendered

10 LFS User Group Meeting 6 December 2005 Numerical flexibility: Non-permanent jobs Overall, 94% of jobs are permanent Men and women in 50s: most common form is contract for fixed period/task For men, casual work becomes more prevalent aged 70+ For women, from age 60 onwards Men less likely to be non-permanent on a voluntary basis Positive association between part-time and temporary jobs

11 LFS User Group Meeting 6 December 2005 Contractual flexibility: Self-employment

12 LFS User Group Meeting 6 December 2005 Characteristics of self-employed Relative odds of self-employment increases with age More prevalent in Greater London Single women least likely to be self-employed Those who own their house outright most likely to be self- employed Educational attainment has complex effects Occupational effects gendered: Women – managers and professionals Men – skilled trades

13 LFS User Group Meeting 6 December 2005 Locational flexibility: Homeworking 12% of women, 22% of men, work mainly from home Women more likely to work for an outside organisation Men more likely to be self-employed Mainly professionals and white-collar occupations 64% of women and 70% of men use a telephone and computer in their work.

14 LFS User Group Meeting 6 December 2005 Temporal flexibility: Access Only 26% of women and 16% of men reported any of a list of arrangements: ~ flexitime ~ annualised hours contract ~ term-time working ~ job sharing ~ nine day fortnight ~ four-and-a-half day week ~ zero hours contract Most common was flexitime Women more likely to work in term-time or to job-share Men more likely to work compressed hours Majority of older men and women work 5 days per week

15 LFS User Group Meeting 6 December 2005 Older workers and flexibility: future options Except for part-time working, very few work flexibly Quality of flexible work is variable Opportunities to increase employment, esp for women But: access to flexible working is least prevalent in those occupations where they are most likely to work Importance of SPA as de facto retirement age – changes imminent Other research shows support for working longer, on a flexible basis (e.g. McNair et al, 2004) Opportunities to include those currently outside the labour market (e.g. long-term ill, early retired) Appreciating heterogeneity of older workers seems key

16 LFS User Group Meeting 6 December 2005 Details of full report Older Workers and Options for Flexible Work By: Wendy Loretto, Sarah Vickerstaff and Phil White Equal Opportunities Commission Working Paper Series, No. 31 (2005) Available from:


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