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Is 35 the new ‘older’ worker?

by on October 31, 2012

New research from the USA on workplace injuries analysed by age cohorts exploring, for example, whether there is any difference in the types of injuries sustained by younger and older workers.

The NCCI study (a copy of the briefiing is available here) is entitled ‘Workers Compensation and the Aging Workforce: Is 35 the new “older” worker?’

It concludes: ‘This study provides further evidence of similarities between younger and older workers. The distribution of diagnoses is remarkably similar, and there is little difference by age in the share of permanent partial claims across a range of leading diagnoses. We also found similar contributions to overall severity due to changes in mix, quantity, and price by age cohort. Older workers have more costly injuries, but now those injuries are becoming more prominent for younger-aged workers. Duration, treatments per claim, benefits paid per day, and costs per treatment are all very similar for workers in the 35 and older-age cohorts and they are higher than for workers in the under-age-35 cohorts.’

This latter point explains the title of the study report. It adds to a number of US academic papers which have problematised the category ‘older worker’ . This is nearly always interpreted there as ’40 plus’ in line with US legislation (the ADEA) which protects older age (40 and over) from discrimination. This is very different from the UK (and other EU countries) where it is age (any age) which is the ‘protected characteristic’. Academics in the US have noted how – with an ageing population – the definition looks more difficult to justify when the largest segment of the working population is aged 40-44.

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