O*NET® Products at Work

AARP Public Policy Institute and the Urban Institute

The AARP Public Policy Institute and the Urban Institute examined how job demands have changed over time and what they might look like in the future. In the paper, Employment at Older Ages and the Changing Nature of Work (Johnson, Mermin, & Resseger, 2007), the authors link detailed information on occupational characteristics from the O*NET database to the March 1971 and March 2006 Current Population Surveys. They found a sharp decline in the physical demands of jobs and the prevalence of difficult working conditions over the past 35 years. They also found that jobs have become more stressful and cognitively challenging. The implications of the study suggest that the decline in physical job demands increases the opportunities for older people to remain at work. However, more stressful, cognitively demanding jobs complicate the picture. The study proposes that the changing nature of work will likely promote old-age employment for most people, or at least not interfere with longer work lives.