Australia Most Improved for Leveraging Mature Age Workers

  • Australia biggest mover in rankings, jumping 4 places to go from 16th to 12th in the 12 month study period;
  • Australia, Germany and Israel biggest movers in rankings since 2003;
  • Australia biggest mover in the ranking for the full-time earnings ratio of 55-64 year olds relative to 25-54 year olds since 2003, in fifth place.

Australia is the biggest mover in OECD rankings for employment of mature age workers, jumping four places from 16th to 12th in one year, according to the latest PwC Golden Age Index.

Australia is also one of the top three biggest movers in the rankings over the last 12 years, moving up eight places, with some of the main improvements in employment rates (55-64), full time earnings (55-64) and participation in training.

The PwC Golden Age Index is a weighted average of indicators – including employment, earnings and training – that reflect the labour market impact of workers aged over 55 in 34 OECD countries.

PwC’s Chief Economist Jeremy Thorpe said: “Australia has finally moved from middle of the pack to within the top third of the 34 nations. This has been driven by the Commonwealth Government’s ongoing efforts to increase workforce participation of our mature age workers.

“These efforts include the comprehensive pension reform introduced in 2009 to improve the sustainability and flexibility of the system, and the Work Bonus also introduced that year which allows pensioners to earn up to $250 every two weeks from employment without the amount being assessed as income under the income test.

“We’re continuing to improve in leveraging mature age workers, but we’re far behind our closest neighbour, New Zealand, in second place. If Australia could boost employment rates for those aged over 55 to Swedish levels – which still ranks lower than New Zealand on the Index – we could potentially add 4.5% to our GDP,” Mr Thorpe said.

Australia is the biggest mover in the ranking for the full-time earnings ratio of 55-64 year olds relative to 25-54 year olds since 2003, and now ranks fifth on this measure behind Austria, Greece, Portugal and Belgium.

Australia also ranks 13th for employment rates of 55-64 year olds, and has moved into the top third among OECD countries for employment rates of 65-69 year olds, in 11th place ahead of Sweden and Switzerland, which consistently rank high on the PwC Golden Age Index.

When it comes to the gender gap in employment of mature age workers, however, Australia places 16th behind France and Belgium who perform below average on the PwC Golden Age Index overall.

Other findings from the latest PwC Golden Age Index are:

  • The Nordic countries once again perform strongly on the index, with Iceland topping the list and Sweden in fourth and Norway in sixth place.
  • Mexico, Turkey and Greece have each fallen 12 places in rankings since 2003.
  • The absolute performance of the OECD has risen overtime.
  • OECD countries could add around $2 trillion to their total gross domestic product (GDP) in the long run if the employment rate for workers aged over 55 was equal to best-performing EU country Sweden.

PwC Global People Business Leader, Jon Williams said: “The clear positive correlation between country scores on our Young Workers and Golden Age Indices suggests that the employment of older workers does not block the path for younger workers. It actually makes our nation stronger, as more workers generates more demand and therefore more jobs in the economy.

“However we need to change our social bias toward older workers to allow this to happen. We are stuck in a cradle to grave model of career progression with a stigma towards changing careers and taking a step back.

“It’s pleasing to see the Commonwealth Government’s commitment to a group of workers that are sometimes overlooked. To offset the higher costs associated with our ageing population, older workers should be encouraged and enabled to remain working for longer. This would increase GDP, consumer spending power and tax revenues. Businesses who make better use of the skills and experience of older workers also gain a real competitive advantage at a time when their customer bases are also ageing,” Mr Williams said.