Too old to work, too young to retire

05 January 2016

By Michael McGann, Dina Bowman, Helen Kimberley and Simon Biggs, 2015

With people living longer and the working age population in decline, older Australians are being asked to work longer. Yet increasing numbers are experiencing long-term unemployment and chronic insecurity in the labour market.


With life expectancy increasing and the working age population in decline, older Australians are being asked to work longer. Yet increasing numbers are experiencing long-term unemployment and chronic insecurity in the labour market.

Focusing on mature-age adults who are underemployed or involuntarily without work, the Brotherhood of St Laurence, in partnership with Jobs Australia and researchers at Melbourne, Canberra and Curtin universities, undertook a study to understand:

  • the circumstances that lead to marginalisation from employment
  • the impact on people’s personal and financial wellbeing, and future aspirations
  • how employment services can better assist mature-age jobseekers.

Data from the HILDA survey and ABS were analysed and 80 older men and women were interviewed.

The results show the connection between work, age and identity and the importance of gender and class in shaping older workers’ diverse experiences of ageing, work and discrimination.

This study was funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage grant.

Too old to work, too young to retire report » (PDF, 787 KB)

The Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL) acknowledges and understands its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and recognises that all children and young people have the right to be treated with respect and care, and to be safe from all forms of abuse. BSL has a zero tolerance towards child abuse.
Read the official statement signed by the Executive Director.

The Brotherhood recognises the harm that family violence causes and that freedom from violence is a basic human right.
We will support our staff, volunteers, clients and the community if they experience violence.

Find out more about the work of the Brotherhood
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The Brotherhood of St Laurence acknowledges and recognises the Traditional Owners of the land upon which we live and work, and we pay our respects to their Elders both past and present.

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