Matt Cowgill caught me a little by surprise with his post on ageing and the labour force participation rate.
To better understand these dynamics, I have had a quick look at the ageing of the civilian population in the labour force statistics. We will start with the gross population counts for specified age cohorts.
Since 1978, the cohort aged 65 years and over has gone from the middle of the pack to the second largest cohort.
Update: the next two charts look at the age structure in percentage terms, rather than as raw counts.
Next we will look at the annual growth rates for each of these cohorts. This chart is a bit messy, but there is a clear spike for the 55-59 year olds in 2002, and a corresponding spike for the 60 to 64 year olds in 2007. This spike continues into the 65 year old and older cohort in 2012.
Because this picture was a bit messy, I have aggregated a few cohorts for the next chart. In this chart, we can see that the 55-64 year old cohort was the fastest growing cohort between 1997 and 2008. From 2009, it looks like the 65 years and older cohort is the fastest growing. This would be consistent with the post Second World War baby boomers moving from late working age into the retirement age group.
Further aggregating, we reveal a demonstrable spike in the growth of those of retirement age, which I expect to have an impact on the overall participation rate (something I will explore a little further in my next blog post).