Working in partnership with a multi-disciplinary group of researchers, the center’s studies explore emergent issues related to aging and work. We prioritize timely, innovative studies incorporating research rigor with compelling workplace relevance into three distinct topical clusters — U.S. and Global Initiatives.
center research highlight
Generational Mix a Workplace Plus
The "Generation Gap" may be a Resource as Companies Struggle to Survive
Older, more resilient employees may be able to help younger colleagues rattled by the economic crisis, according to a new study by released by the Center on Aging & Work. More »
Engaged as We Age
The purpose of this project is to develop an ongoing, national study of aging that asks the broad question: What is the impact of multiple engagements — in continued work, in volunteer activities, in education and other learning activities, in care-giving for family members and friends—on the mental and physical health of older people?
The Impact of Time & Place Management (TPM)
TPM policies refer to a specific subset of flexible work options that business leaders and employers can use as tools to manage when, where, and how much employees work. Examples of TPM policies include options for start/quit times, compressed workweeks, part-time options, e-work, part-year options, and phased retirement.
Age & Generations
The Age & Generations study is in process and examines similarities and differences in employees’ perceptions of their work across ages/generations, career stages, life stages, and job tenure. More than 2,200 employees ages 17 to 81 participated in the survey, representing nine organizations across the nation from a range of industry sectors.
21st Century Demographics
The study provides information to help state leaders nationwide examine the connection between aging and work, and how changes in the labor force participation of older adults will affect their states.
Age and The Meaning of Work
This study reviews and summarizes existing literature on non-financial benefits that work offers older workers.
Changing US Workforce and Older Workers
Working in collaboration with the Families and Work Institute, data from the National Study of the Changing Workforce were used to examine differences in the employment experiences of male and female older workers and the experiences of older workers and younger workers who are employees, self-employed, and small business owners.
The Citisales Study: Work Culture & Flexible Work Arrangements
This study gathered survey data from employees and conducted interviews with selected managers at a national retail company, “Citisales.” Factors related to the implementation of flexible work options and employees’ utilization of options available to them were investigated. Analyses focused on issues such as flexibility, generational differences, and worker-supervisor relationships. While workers of all ages were interviewed, particular attention was paid to older workers of both the Traditionalist and Baby Boom generation.
Country Context Study
The Country Context study brings together the expertise of an international community of collaborators, providing high-quality and comparable data about employers and employees in a growing number of countries. Individually, the studies: provide demographic, workplace, and social statistics on a country’s context accessible to employers, scholars, and others; investigate the differences in quality of employment both by country and by age; and give overviews of policies within a country that affect quality of employment across the life course.
Cross-National Policy Comparisons
The Cross-National Policy Comparisons project makes available summaries of public policy provisions related to diverse facets of working time.
Diversity and Older Workers—Leisure Time & Employment Options
The analysis reported in this project examined the effects of employment in general and the effects of self-employment, particular employment policies, and recent changes in employment characteristics. The results of the analysis suggest that changes in employment status in later life encourage workers to reorganize their schedules. While some of these changes appear to benefit older adults, such as increases in civic engagement brought on by self-employment, other changes—such as switching employers past age 50—may mean decreases in personal time as the worker establishes themselves at a new workplace.
Family Caregivers of the Elderly
The purpose of the Family Caregivers of the Elderly project is to investigate the impact of the work and the medical/caregiving environments on the family caregiver's experiences at work, in medical settings, in their communities, and at home during and following the caregiving experience.
Flexibility and the Engagement of Older Workers
Analyzing data gathered by WFD from employees at more than 30 workplaces, this study investigated how flexibility affects older workers’ engagement compared to that of younger workers. Using hierarchical linear modeling, the analyses put the employees’ responses in the context of the work environments at their organizations.
Generations of Talent
The Generations of Talent study gathered data from employees at worksites in 10 different countries to: provide global workplaces with leading evidence and strategic business tools; and offer experiential learning opportunities for participating worksites.
Health Insurance Costs and the Employment of Older Workers
This study examined one of the critical factors that could affect employment of older workers and workplace adoption of flexible work options — the costs of health insurance. Demographic groups that have higher health insurance costs, such as older workers, are less likely to be employed. In states where older workers' health insurance costs less, employment rates among those workers are correspondingly higher than in states where older workers’ health insurance costs more. Employers treat all demographic groups with higher health care costs similarly, indicating that many of the negative effects on older workers may be accounted for by financial concerns.
The Importance of Bridge Jobs
This investigation used the Core and War Babies samples from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) to examine factors that explain the utilization of flexible work options by older workers. The study included three phases, each exploring some aspect of bridge jobs, in which workers gradually leave the labor force. First, during year 1, the research focused on the reasons for and economic consequences of gradual exits from the labor force. Second, during year 2, the investigation turned to self-employment and retiree well-being as facets of bridge jobs. Finally, the year 3 investigation focused on re-entry into the labor force.
Work is central in the lives of adults. The “Work as a Context for Adult Development” project utilized data from the first wave of Midlife in the United States: A National Study of Health & Well-being (MIDUS) to investigate the relationships among personality, job characteristics, and well-being for employees of different ages.
National Study of Business Strategy and Workforce Development
The National Study of Business Strategy and Workforce Development surveyed organizations about their responses to the aging workforce including the adoption of a range of flexible work options. Information was gathered about a range of factors that could explain variation in workplace responsiveness, including: characteristics of the business environment, priority business strategies, HR challenges, workforce development, and workplace culture and workforce demographics. Data were collected to distinguish “early adapters” from other organizations.
Older Workers & Life Satisfaction
Analysis of the 2002 National Study of the Changing Workforce to identify factors that explain variation in the life satisfaction of older workers.
Older Worker’s Transitions: Paid and Unpaid Work
This study examines the relationship between the availability of one type of flexible work arrangement, time reduction policies (which allow employees to reduce the number of hours worked), and volunteer behavior among older adults. Among married couples, if both the husband and wife had access to policies that would allow them to reduce their hours worked, they are more likely to volunteer in subsequent years. For single respondents and for couples in which only one spouse reported that they could reduce their work hours, the effect on volunteering was not significant. These findings suggest that employer policies that allow older workers to reduce their hours on the job encourage volunteering behavior.
States as Employers-of-Choice
The States as Employers-of-Choice Projectwas an ongoing collaboration between the Twiga Foundation, Inc. and the Center on Aging & Work. The project aimed to shed light on the dynamics of aging in the state public sector workforce and the responses of state agencies, such as with the adoption of flexible work options.
This project focuses on the “facts” of the aging of the population, juxtaposed with the “realities” that state leaders are facing. The insights from the State Context papers bring the facts to life, offering glimpses of the opportunities that can be seized as state leaders move from awareness of the situation into action steps.
The purpose of the Talent Management study is to learn more about talent management strategies at U.S. workplaces given today’s business environment and the changing demographics of the workforce. We will be gathering information about very current issues and will directly share the information with employers in a number of ways. In particular, the study aims to elicit perspectives about today’s business environment and information about: organizational approaches to talent management; key business strategies; workplace flexibility; benefits; and workforce demographics.
Understanding Civic Engagement: Older Workers’ Financial Resources and the Pursuit of Paid and Unpaid Work
This investigation examined relationships between employees’ utilization of flexible work arrangements and their financial responsibilities, volunteering, and patterns of paid work. The investigators used the Panel Study on Income Dynamics, the Current Population Survey, and the Survey of Consumer Finances, to examine patterns of paid and unpaid work in relation to the aging process and concomitant issues of health and reductions in the financial need to support children and/or other dependents. Attention was paid to how this mix varies by the level of both income and wealth and the potential consequences of volunteering for employers.
Working in Retirement
The Working in Retirement study uses data from the Health and Retirement Study and the National Study of the Changing Workforce to examine the post-retirement work choices of older adults. The project aims to examine the dynamics and prevalence of bridge jobs, self-employment, and other non-traditional pathways out of full-time career work.