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Understanding older worker precarity: the intersecting domains of jobs, households and the welfare state

Lain, David, Airey, Laura, Loretto, Wendy, Vickerstaff, Sarah (2018) Understanding older worker precarity: the intersecting domains of jobs, households and the welfare state. Ageing and Society, . ISSN 0144-686X. E-ISSN 1469-1779. (doi:10.1017/S0144686X18001253)

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Abstract

In policy debates it is commonly claimed that older workers are entering a period of choice and control. In contrast, Guy Standing’s (2011) book The Precariat argues that older people are increasingly joining the ‘precariat’, by taking low-level jobs to supplement dwindling pension incomes. We argue that many older workers, not just those in “precarious jobs”, feel a sense of ‘ontological precarity’. Pressures to work longer, combined with limited alternative employment prospects and inadequate retirement incomes, give rise to a heightened sense of precarity. We develop a new theoretical model for understanding precarity as a lived experience, which is influenced by the intersection between precarious jobs, precarious welfare states and precarious households. This model is then illustrated using qualitative research from two UK organisations: Local Government and Hospitality. In both organisations older workers experienced a sense of ontological precarity because they worried about the long-term sustainability of their jobs and saw limited alternative sources of retirement income. Household circumstances either reinforced interviewees’ sense of precarity, or acted as a buffer against it. This was particularly important for women, as they typically accrued smaller financial resources in their own right. Our concluding discussion builds on this more advanced theoretical understanding of older worker precarity to call for a rethinking of state and employer support for decisions around later-life working and retirement.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1017/S0144686X18001253
Uncontrolled keywords: older workers; ontological precarity; precariat; precarious work; retirement
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research > Sociology
Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research > Social Policy
Depositing User: Lisa Towers
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2018 13:35 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 21:05 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/68936 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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