Being Old in the Age of Aging: Macro-Level Determinants of Change in Perception of Old Age Threshold in EU Countries
Purpose: The question about the determinants of perception of old age still has not found an unequivocal answer in the literature. Most of the studies so far have concentrated on the analysis of micro factors in selected years. This study attempts to fill this gap by evaluating macro-level variables associated with changes in individual perception of the beginning of old age. Our analysis, which is based on the 2008 and 2018 editions of the European Social Survey, attempts to capture changes in the perception of old age. Design/Methodology/Approach: We have analysed four macro factors, health, socioeconomic, institutional, and the labor market. Among these groups, the socio-economic and labor market factors have the most considerable significance. The change of the real GDP per capita factor explains 13% of the variability of the perception of the old age threshold. Almost all labor market indicators, 55-64 employment rate, 65-69 and 75+ labor force participation rates, have proven to be statistically significant. Findings: The most notable result of this study is the significant role of factors related to the labor market, both concerning the old age perception threshold and the change of this threshold. Practical Implications: The study results provide a strong indication that the situation of the elderly in the labor market is the primary macro determinant of the perception of old age. Originality/Value: The results of our study indicate that the most effective tools of influencing the perception of the onset of old age are provided by labour market policy directed at employment support for people aged 55+, mainly 75+. This is a conclusion important from the point of view of the results of the COVID-19 pandemics, where the people most at risk are the eldest, both for health reasons (highest mortality in this age group), and for an increased risk of job loss, as such people, by having the right to a pension or drawing a pension, will be relatively least impacted financially by the loss of employment.