chapter  17
22 Pages

Ergonomics and Aging

The rate of population aging is unprecedented, pervasive, enduring, and it has profound implications

for most aspects of society, including the workforce (Klinger, 2002). Early retirement pushes that

occurred in the early twentieth century, leveled off in the middle twentieth century, and recently

have been increasing (Burtless and Quinn, 2000), which has led to a growing number of older

adults in the workforce. On a global scale, approximately 1 in 5 adults are 65 years and older and

are in the workforce (Klinger, 2002). In more developed countries approximately 30% of adults

aged 60 years or older are in the workforce; the percentage is more than 60% in less developed

countries (Klinger, 2002). In addition, some unemployed older adults report wanting employment.

For example, 5% of Americans aged 55 to 74 who are unemployed or retired report a desire to be

employed (U.S. General Accounting Office, 2001). The U.S. older adult workforce is projected to

rise by 37% by 2015, which means the older adult workforce could make up almost 20% of the

total workforce by 2015 (U.S. General Accounting Office, 2001). Such growth trends have spawned

a renewed interest in the older adult worker.