Drawing on the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS), this paper examines changes in the proportion of people aged over 50, active in the Irish labour market from 1998 to 2014. Results indicate that an increasing number of workers over 50 remain active, due mainly to the dramatic increase in the proportion of older females remaining in the labour force. By 2014 the 50 to 64 age group accounted for a quarter of all economically active people in the labour market between 15 and 64. Older workers are more likely to be employees and less likely to be employers or self-employed in 2014 compared to 1998. Older workers in lower-level occupations, particularly over the age of 60, are more likely to remain economically active. Level of education is strongly associated with the likelihood of older workers remaining economically active, particularly for the 50-59 age group and for females. .
The rise in zero hours contracts in liberal market economies (LMEs) has recently received much attention with calls for regulation to protect workers. LMEs typically adopt flexible labour market policies that are less regulated than coordinated market economies (CMEs) as a competitive advantage. In this paper we examine nuanced differences in the nature and regulation of zero hours work in the United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland. With an increased diffusion of zero hours work in both countries, we examine the different responses taken by these similar LMEs to this contemporary employment issue. We examine whether, as expected in an LME context, there is weak regulation in both countries and the factors influencing this. We find subtle but important differences between regulations of zero hours contracts. We conclude by discussing the possible implications of the UK’s exit from the European Union (EU) (Brexit) for the regulation of precarious work.