How Do Job Skills That Decline With Age Affect White-Collar Workers?

tirsdag, 02 mai 2017

As people age, their reaction times slow, flexibility diminishes, and strength declines. These changes in physical and sensory abilities are easy to spot. Thus, research on retirement timing assumes that people in blue-collar jobs, which often rely on these abilities, will retire relatively early. Conversely, researchers often assume that white-collar workers can retire later. But the cognitive abilities needed for many white-collar jobs, like memory and mental speed, also decline with age. And some white-collar jobs also rely on physical or sensory abilities – for example, oral surgeons must have dexterous fingers, steady hands, and excellent eyesight. These observations raise an obvious question: can all white-collar workers remain productive well into their sixties and, if not, which jobs are most vulnerable to age-related decline?

To answer these questions, this brief presents a “Susceptibility Index,” which measures how likely the physical and cognitive abilities required by an occupation are to decline during the working years.