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Living Stronger, Earning Longer: Redefining Retirement in the 21st Century

Testimony Before the Senate Special Committee on Aging

International Comparisons. "Rethinking the Role of Older Workers: Promoting Older Worker Employment in Europe and Japan" reviews older worker employment and retirement trends. It also examines efforts to promote older worker employment in the European Union, Japan, and the United States in light of demographic pressures on public pension systems.

Keeping Abreast of American Trends. "Update on the Older Worker" annually assesses the employment status of workers aged 55 and over. In recent years, their numbers and participation rates have been rising. Nonetheless, if they become unemployed, older workers continue to face formidable barriers in finding work. AARP is also examining the characteristics of individuals who return to work after a spell of retirement.

IV. Global Efforts

AARP is also working to facilitate international understanding and dialogue around the global aging agenda. Efforts are focused on the issues of pensions, labor markets, age discrimination, health care, and long-term care.

AARP helped launch the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) study, "Ageing and Employment Policies: United States." The study looks at both work incentives and barriers to employment facing older workers. A unique feature of the study is its placement of older workers within an international context.

Also, AARP will co-host a summit with the United Kingdom's Department of Work and Pensions on a range of retirement issues in July. A second retirement income event is scheduled for July as well, entitled, "Reinventing Retirement: Balancing Risk." The conference centers on comparing various retirement security models used in other countries to encourage public debate about retirement income security reform.

Conclusion

In answer to the anticipated growth of the aging population, as well as greater demand for older workers, AARP has taken on the challenge of helping to create solutions to meet the needs of the workforce and older employees. What we have seen is that employers are interested in learning about and implementing policies that attract older workers and create a supportive work environment for them. And, employers who adapt their workplace will likely find themselves better positioned to harvest the benefits of this potential resource.

Congress' challenge is to establish policies that recognize and complement the innovations of employers who have successfully attracted older employees. Legislation to make job training programs more inclusive and to expand phased retirement are two good examples. Understanding the needs of older workers will help Congress develop answers to create a workplace of choice for older workers.

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