[Journal:] Zeitschrift für ArbeitsmarktForschung – Journal for Labour Market Research [ISSN:] 2510-5027 [Volume:] 40 [Year:] 2007 [Issue:] 1 [Pages:] 77-97
Against the background of an aging labor force in Germany and insufficient job opportunities for older people, the paper raises the question as to how age affects the productivity of workers. Due to opposite developments of certain human abilities across the life span, gerontological research supports the hypothesis of an inverted u-shaped age-productivity profile. Middle aged workers are supposed to achieve the highest productivity level, whereas both young and old employees should show lower productivity levels. The analysis is carried out on the basis of a new linked employer-employee dataset of the Institute for Employment Research (LIAB). Within a production function framework it is tested econometrically whether the age composition of a firm's workforce affects its productivity and if so in what way. The regressions are carried out separately for the manufacturing and the service sectors. The cross-section estimations of the year 2003 reveal a positive correlation between firm productivity and the share of middle-aged employees (35-44 years old). Furthermore, in the manufacturing sector, a negative correlation between productivity and the proportion of the youngest age group (15-24 years old) can be seen. Thus the results provide evidence of an inverted u-shaped age-productivity profile in this sector. In the service sector, in contrast, the share of the youngest workers seems to increase productivity compared to the reference group of the 55-64 year-old employees.