The average age of the European workforce is going up, according to EU Commission research.
The activity (or participation) rate measures the share of working-age people who are in the labour force, including both those in employment and unemployment. There has been a constant growth in activity rates among developed countries during the last decades.
The rise in the activity rate in the EU occurred in spite of the crisis which led to considerable job losses and a big increase in unemployment. It was the result of older workers staying in the labour force: the activity rate of older workers, those above 55 years old increased by almost 10 percentage points since 2008. The higher participation of older workers compensated the decrease of around 3 percentage points among young people (15-24 years) and the stagnation of the activity rate of the prime working-age population (25-54 years).
The increase in activity rates concerned both subgroups of older workers (55-59 and 60-64) in equal measure. Among people aged 60 to 64, the growth was modest until 2011, but accelerated thereafter, surpassing the growth of the 55-59 group in the most recent years. Those aged 55 to 59 have now the same participation rate as the overall working-age population (15-64).
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