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VAM-Velferd, arbeid og migrasjon

Shades of Grey: Negotiating Age Norms, Class and Gender in the time of Pension Reform

Alternative title: Gråtoner: Aldersnormer, klasse og kjønn i pensjonsreformenes tid

Awarded: NOK 12.0 mill.

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2020 - 2024

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The Norwegian pension reform has given older employees much stronger incentives to remain in employment for longer, but paradoxically, it made it less beneficial for employers to retain them. This is because the pre-reform early retirement scheme AFP made employers partly financially responsible for employees’ early retirement, while the new AFP scheme contains no such mechanisms. In addition, since 2018 the tripartite Agreement for Inclusive Working Life (IA-avtalen) has no longer highlighted extending working careers as a priority. This is the starting point for GREYSHADES. We wish to study how employers and employees adapt to these new circumstances. We assume that adaptations vary by both gender and education, and aim to capture such variation in our analyses. The project is organised in three work packages (WPs). WP1 is a qualitative study of work organisations and enterprises. We have interviewed HR-managers, line managers and senior employees in three large enterprises with different gender and education profiles. The aim is to develop a broad overview of how these issues are perceived in the workplaces and by the seniors themselves. Key topics in the interviews with managers have been how they perceive the competence and qualifications of older workers compared to younger, whether older/younger employees experience certain opportunities/challenges the other group did not face, how they understood the enterprises’ senior policies, and which signals they received from top management relating to retaining (or not) older workers. These topics were also crucial in the interviews with employees, but in addition, we asked them about their own experiences and reflections on workplace policies. We also asked them how they perceived their status as older workers in their workplace, and what plans and aspirations they had for the future. In WP2, we analyse quantitative data from the NorLAG study. The key research questions are: (1) How do senior workers perceive their psychosocial work environment? (2) How have senior employees’ retirement plans changed over time? (3) What is the relationship between perceptions of psychosocial work environment and actual exit behaviour from the workforce? In the analyses of retirement behaviour, we discovered that results vary systematically by how we operationalize “retirement”. Against this background, we have undertaken analyses that compare the different operationalisations. This groundwork will be useful in future analyses. In WP3, we look into managers’ attitudes, as expressed in the survey Seniorbarometeret. Seniorbarometeret is a unique data set consisting of a survey that has been carried out annually since 2003 by the Norwegian Centre for Senior Policy (SSP). We have utilized this data set to analyse two questions: (1) in what ways have managers’ attitudes to senior workers changed over time, and is the pattern of change uniform across industries, for managers with different age and gender, and other background factors? (2) How do managers’ attitudes at the most recent point in time vary by individual factors and workplace context? GREYSHADES is a cooperation between the Institute for Social Research (ISF) and Norwegian Social Research (NOVA) at Oslo Metropolitan University, with contributions from the Centre for Senior Policy, the University of Canterbury and the University of Lausanne. The project funds a PhD who works in the qualitative interviews in WP1. Web:

The overall research question in the GREYSHADES project is; how do age norms change in the light of population ageing and changing incentive structures? Age norms are defined as widely shared beliefs about what individuals ought to do at different ages, including - but not limited to - beliefs about the proper work exit age. The background is the pension reform, effective from 2011, which gives employees strong incentives to work longer while reducing incentives for employers to retain them. Based on existing literature, we hypothesise that age norms vary by gender and social class, and that they are social in nature and influenced by social interaction as well as by societal and political change. We intend to study norms that managers and employees hold, as well as norms that employees feel exposed to, and how these translate into behaviours, practices and, ultimately, seniors´ desire to remain employed. We will utilise a mixed-methods approach, combining repeated cross-sectional surveys among managers and panel surveys among employees with a case study in workplaces. This set-up allows us to examine how managers´ approach to senior workers has changed over time, and how senior workers´ experiences in the workplace and retirement intentions change. The case study will allow for more in-depth analyses of workplaces with varying gender balance and skills requirements. We will approach 5-6 workplaces with different compositions of high-skilled / low-skilled workers, and with different gender balances. We have established contact with the Centre for Senior Policy, to maintain contact with stakeholders throughout the project, and with the Norface-funded DAISIE-project, to ensure high quality and the potential for international comparisons.

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VAM-Velferd, arbeid og migrasjon