American Pharoah, the wonder horse that won the Triple Crown after no thoroughbred had won all three races (the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont) in almost 40 years, is a rare champion indeed. Yet seniors in the workplace are also Triple Crown winners.
Not only do those who keep working have the stamina to do so they also boost the economy in three major ways and thus add to everyone’s prosperity.
Crown #1: Older workers have more experience, wisdom, and good judgment than younger workers have. They also have a strong work ethic and are accustomed to showing up on time and leaving when the workday is over; they do not shave a few minutes off the clock. If they take good care of themselves, older workers’ health care costs need not be exorbitant. All in all, older workers boost productivity, which means more profits.
Crown #2: By staying in the work force until full retirement age or beyond, older workers continue contributing to Social Security without taking anything from it. This enhances and protects this vital program and helps the national economy.
Crown #3: They are drivers of the economy when they start their own businesses, as many of them do. A study by the Kauffman Foundation noted that almost 30% of business start-ups in 2015 were created by people over 55 and under 64, more than doubling the number of mature people who were creating new enterprises in 1996.
Starting an “encore career,” or going for one’s “second act,” in the work arena sometimes means wanting to be one’s own boss. This is especially true if the older worker was let go from his or her position because of age discrimination, which is often hard to prove. Starting one’s own business has a great deal of appeal on this score. If the older worker is the boss, no one is going to get fired for being too old or for needing flexible hours.
Internet businesses, in particular, offer an easier work situation than a brick and mortar store or office, and technology performs many tasks that previously took tiring man-hours. An Internet business can also mask a person’s age.
Given the fact that many new businesses fail, why is it good news for the economy that elderly people are creating start-ups in ever greater numbers? According to Chris Jackson, writing for the Kauffman Foundation, it is because successful start-ups create new jobs.
Entrepreneurship has always been considered a strength of the United States economy. This was reaffirmed by a survey titled, “The Challenge of Shared Prosperity,” which was conducted by Harvard Business School alumni. The study pinpointed entrepreneurship as one of the pillars of the U.S. economy.
When older Americans put their shoulders to the wheel of successful entrepreneurship, they proliferate prosperity for everyone. Their experience, wisdom, and work ethic bode well for successful new business creation and overall success, thus creating opportunities for others in the work force.
Staying in the work force longer is not solely a U.S. trend. As life expectancy expands worldwide, more older workers keep their talents in the workplace or expand them to embrace others in newly created avenues of employment.
All around the globe, elderly workers are not only a win-win proposition; they are win-win-win for everyone in an economy.
Reid, T.R. The Value of Older Workers: Experience Makes them better Problem Solvers, more Reliable. AARP, September 2015, Available online at
Stangler, Dane. NPR Looks at the Growing Number of Older Adult Entrepreneurs. The Kauffman Foundation, April 2, 2014. Available online at http://www.kauffman.org/what-we-do/articles/2014/04/npr-looks-at-the-growing-number-of-older-adult-entrepreneurs.
Jackson, Chris. Snowflake Entrepreneurs. The Kauffman Foundation, January 16, 2015. http://www.kauffman.org/blogs/growthology/2015/01/snowflake-entrepreneurs
Marich, Mark. Entrepreneurship Seen as Strongest Aspect of U.S. Economy. The Kauffman Foundation, September 14, 2015. Available online at http://www.kauffman.org/blogs/policy-dialogue/2015/september/entrepreneurship-seen-as-strongest-aspect-of-us-economy