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Employment of Older Workers

The Age Profile Of Employment, Race, Gender, And Employment, Historical Changes In Employment In Later Life

People are considered to be employed if they are working for pay in a job that provides them with a salary or a wage, or if they are working for profit, as in a family-owned business. For most people, employment forms a central activity for much of adulthood and not only provides access to income but also contributes to one's identity and sense of self. Yet embedded within the norms about work in the United States is the expectation that as people age, they will give up their paid employment activities. Indeed, many individuals in later life have achieved economic security through private pensions and other forms of wealth accumulated through employment in early and middle adulthood. These individuals often choose a mix of leisure and productive activities such as volunteer work as alternatives to continued employment. Relinquishing paid employment is not a universal experience, however. Some older individuals choose to continue working as a means of supplementing otherwise inadequate economic resources. Still others continue to work for intrinsic reasons, such as enjoyment of work, desire for meaningful activity, or to maintain social connections. An elderly store clerk assists a young customer. Many senior citizens are finding jobs in the retail sector. (Corbis photo by David Turnley.) Although most older people do not work full-time or year-round, many do participate in employment well into later life.

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Medicine EncyclopediaAging Healthy - Part 2