The legacy of the Great Recession in Italy: a wider geographical, gender, and generational gap in working life expectancy
Social Indicators Research, 142:1, 283–303 (2019)
Under the pressure of population aging the Italian pension system has undergone reforms to increase labor force participation and retirement age, and, thus, the length of working life. However, how the duration of working life has developed in recent years is not well understood. This paper is the first to analyze trends in working life expectancy in Italy. We use data from a nationally representative longitudinal sample of 880,000 individuals from 2003 to 2013 and estimate working life expectancy by gender, occupational category, and region of residence using a Markov chain approach. We document large and increasing heterogeneity in the length of working life. From 2003–2004 to 2012–2013, working life expectancy for men declined from 35.2 to 27.2 years and for women from 34.7 to 23.7 years, increasing the gender gap to 3.5 years. Both young and old were hit, as roughly half of the decline was attributable to ages below 40, half above 40. Working life expectancy declined for all occupational groups, but those in manual occupations lost most, 8.5 years (men) and 10.5 years (women). The North–South economic gradient widened such that men living in the North were expected to work 8 years longer than women living in the South. The fraction of working life of total life expectancy at age 15 declined to record lows at 40% for men and 34% for women in 2012–2013. Policies aiming at increasing total population working life expectancy need to take into consideration the socio-demographic disparities highlighted by our results.