Ending on the Scrap Heap?

Ute-Christine Klehe, Jessie Koen and Irene E. De Pater

in The Oxford Handbook of Work and Aging

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780195385052
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Ending on the Scrap Heap?


Job loss and unemployment are among the worst stressors that people can encounter during their lifetimes, and the search for (re-)employment is often a process troubled with setbacks and disappointments. While older workers are often shielded from job loss by higher tenure in their current organization, they might be struck particularly harshly when trying to find re-employment elsewhere. The current chapter combines earlier conceptual and empirical work on coping with job loss and job search with work on employability and the stereotypes that may turn the coping and job-search process into a severe challenge, particularly among older workers. For this purpose, we first outline the situation of older workers in the workforce, highlighting their vulnerability to possible job loss. We then draw on earlier conceptual work on job loss and on coping with job loss to depict a chronological process model of anticipation, job loss, and unemployment. In this model, we also consider the manifest and latent work functions that may be lost, the subsequent consequences for unemployed people’s psychological and physical health, and the different coping options available, particularly to older workers. In the end, older workers face an uphill battle when searching for re-employment, and one of our last sections outlines some actions that older workers might undertake to face the situation more successfully.

Keywords: job loss; aging; unemployment; job search; re-employment; coping; retirement; self-employment; employability; stereotypes

Article.  21528 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Organizational Psychology

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