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date: 23 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

As the population of the United States ages, there is increasing pressure to encourage people to work past the traditional retirement age. A concern with “pro-work” policies, government and employer policies encouraging older workers to remain in the labor force, has grown out of these pressures. For most of the 20th century, government and employer policies instead tended to be “pro-retirement,” encouraging workers to exit the labor force at a set age. In this chapter, we discuss the waning of pro-retirement policies and the rise of pro-work policies, along with the possible futures for pro-work policies. Putting pro-work policies in the context of organized labor, economic conditions, and social conditions, we discuss the potential implications for employers, government, and individuals. Today, pro-work policies have largely eclipsed the pro-retirement policies that dominated prior to the 1960s. However, by transferring risk from employers and government to workers, they tend to encourage work while creating a population of workers who are not financially well protected by the system. Over the next few decades, developing and implementing pro-work policies that protect and include more vulnerable populations is a task for organized labor, employees, employers, and policymakers alike.

Keywords: pro-work policies, retirement trends, pro-retirement policies, labor unions, Social Security, employer pensions

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