We all know the story of the over fifty year olds, who supposedly no one wants anymore on the labor market. It is told at every regulars’ table. It is told at every debate about the AHV age. Even recently, on a podium, a journalist produced the old story from her friends. But beware: between the mountain of faith and the peaks of knowledge there are dangerous lowlands, mostly in the fog zone. The area there is called “believe to know”. It is one of the most popular destinations in the postfactual age. A danger zone. It is the residential quarter of all those comfortable dazzlers who are too lazy to take on the arduous mountain tour of acquiring knowledge. Now I am not athletic and certainly not suitable for mountain climbing, but I enjoy reading incredibly. Also statistics. I love numbers, because they tell enormously interesting stories – exactly and without much printer’s ink. And since I turned fifty myself a few weeks ago and am now potentially affected by the supposed misery, I have studied the facts in the «focal point labor market» .
Plays us the song of the “old iron”
And hear, hear: the economic research centre at ETH Zurich and the Federal Statistical Office are playing a completely different kind of music. Here is the audio sample: “Older employees are (…) below average often unemployed. According to the curves, this difference is likely to increase further.” Among older women, Switzerland even has the lowest unemployment rate in an international comparison. In addition, older workers are better educated than average, which also speaks for their value in times of skills shortages. But how can this new tone sequence be brought down from the mountain of knowledge to the charts and into the minds of the general population as a catchy tune? Dear Media: Please play us the song of the curious, old iron. From the treasure of life experience. In all variations and styles. And please stop making us afraid of aging by parroting individual cases. Column in the Handelszeitung of 11 October 2018 by Esther-Mirjam de Boer