Whitaker Member’s Research Presented at the European Parliament

Research highlights gender and health implications of Extended Working Life policies in western countries


Members of the COST Action research network IS1409 chaired by Dr Aine Ni Leime and hosted by Christine de Largy at the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway, presented policy briefs that represent the culmination of four years’ collaborative research into the gender and health implications of policies designed to extend working life, at the European Parliment on Wednesday, 6 March.

The COST Action research network has 140 members from 34 countries across Europe and beyond from a range of disciplines including social policy, sociology, business, gender, economics and health research. Members of the network from 18 countries presented policy priorities on the topic for their country.

Dr Aine Ni Leime, co-chair of the Gender and Public Policy research cluster, said: “With increased life expectancy comes the challenge of an ageing population and the associated increases in pension and healthcare costs. Governments are taking action in this area, for example raising the state pension age. In Ireland it will rise to 67 in 2021 and 68 by 2028. Changes in working life policy can have gender or health specific implications. Working longer in labour intensive jobs such as cleaning or construction can have negative health implications at an earlier age than for workers in other occupations. Older workers in precarious employment may find it challenging to find alternative employment as they grow older.

“Women can be more heavily impacted than men by changes to working life policy. Women today often have lower pensions than men for a number of reasons: lower salaries, part-time work or taking time for caring responsibilities for family or children.”

Introductory remarks at the event were given by Vice President of the European Parliament, Mairead Mc Guinness, MEP, Mr Lambert va Nistlerooij, MEP, Chair of the Subgroup on Active Ageing, European Parliament and Ronald De Bruin, Director of COST. The network presented key messages from six policy briefs led by Dr Jonas Radl, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain and Dr Nata Duvvury from the Centre for Global Women’s Studies at NUI Galway. The policy briefs cover: Age Management (2); Health, Employment and Care; Inclusion and Gender; and Pensions and Pension Planning.
This was followed by a policy roundtable involving European policy-makers and stakeholders affected by Extended Working Life from a gender and age perspective. Each roundtable participant spoke briefly about the gender and/or health implications of Extended Working Life policy from the perspective of their organisation. Policy messages from approximately 18 countries from the COST Action network highlighted the key policy priorities related to Extended Working Life in each country.

Vice President of the European Parliament, Mairead Mc Guinness, MEP, said: “I am very pleased to have invited COST and NUI Galway to the European Parliament to share their research into gender and health implications of extended working life – an important and timely topic. The contribution of women is sometimes overlooked, particularly in rural areas and on farms, where their work is not always recognized or counted. A special thank you to Dr Aine Ni Leime, who is the principal investigator into the implications of extended working life and I wish her continued success in her research.”
The research network was funded by COST Action IS1409 ‘Gender and health impacts of policies extending working life in western countries’, supported by COST. See: http://genderewl.com/.

COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) is a funding agency for research and innovation networks. Our Actions help connect research initiatives across Europe and enable scientists to grow their ideas by sharing them with their peers. This boosts their research, career and innovation capacity. See: www.cost.eu.

For more information about the research contact Dr Aine Ni Leime, Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, NUI Galway at aine.nileime@nuigalway.ie or 091 495458.