Too old to tango? Job loss and job search among older workers.

By: Mari Kira, Ute-Christine Klehe, Irene E. De Pater, Jessie Koen


Older workers are often shielded from job loss by high tenure, yet are struck particularly harshly when seeking reemployment after job loss. This article combines earlier research on coping with job loss and job search with insights on employability for older workers.

We outline the situation of older workers, highlighting their vulnerability to possible job-loss and to stereotypes that may lower their perceived employability. Then we outline how this may place older workers in precarious situations regarding (a) the threat of losing their jobs, (b) suffering from loss of nonmonetary benefits (or latent functions) associated with work, (c) having different and fewer coping options than younger job-seekers, and (d) facing fewer chances of finding reemployment.

Older workers face an uphill battle when searching for reemployment, which is partially explained by retirement as an alternative coping reaction to age-related stereotypes, discrimination that undermines older workers’ employability, and other factors.