Work Orientations of Older Employees: Change over the 90s and into the 00s


Older employees are usually assumed to be especially 'loyal' to their employers, but there has been little research to establish whether such attitudes have been changing. This paper first conceptualizes the traditional position of older employees in terms of incentive contracts and employment rents, and then uses knowledge about recent change in the labour market to suggest that this position will have been deteriorating relative to younger employees. This prediction is tested using data from national surveys of employees, with the main comparisons over the period 1992-2000 and supplementary comparisons, to test robustness, for 1998-2004. The results support the prediction that older employees have become relatively disenchanted with their situation, and show that their negative feelings are aimed at their own employers rather than the general employment situation.

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