The 2008–2009 Great Recession and employment outcomes among older workers

Hila Axelrad, Erika L. Sabbath, Summer Sherburne Hawkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This study examined whether economic changes related to the 2008–2009 Recession were associated with employment status and job quality indicators among older workers in Europe and Israel. Data were derived from 4917 respondents (16,090 observations both before and after the recession) from 13 countries who participated in the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe. Annual data on gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, life expectancy, and quarterly unemployment rates were assigned to employment assessments from 2004 to 2013. Using difference-in-differences models, we assessed the recession’s implications on individual employment outcomes, while isolating cyclical variation within countries and individual changes over time. Among older workers, decreases in GDP were associated with an increase in the likelihood of being unemployed and a decrease in the likelihood of being retired. An increasing country-level unemployment rate had a significant effect on aspects of job quality: lower prospects for job advancement, lower job security, and higher job satisfaction. Economic recessions are thus negatively associated with employment outcomes for older workers. However, malleable policy-related factors such as longer tenure and improved general health can limit the negative employment and job quality outcomes following a recession.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-45
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Ageing
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Job advancement
  • Job satisfaction
  • Job security
  • Older workers
  • Recessions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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