Did Age Discrimination Protections Help Older Workers Weather the Great Recession?

Published: 2013


We examine whether stronger age discrimination laws at the state level moderated the impact of the Great Recession on older workers. We use a difference-in-difference-in-differences strategy to compare older workers in states with stronger and weaker laws, to their prime-age counterparts, both before, during, and after the Great Recession. We find very little evidence that stronger age discrimination protections helped older workers weather the Great Recession, relative to younger workers. The evidence sometimes points in the opposite direction, with stronger state age discrimination protections associated with more adverse effects of the Great Recession on older workers. We suggest that this may be because stronger age discrimination laws protect older workers in normal times, but during an experience like the Great Recession severe labor market disruptions make it difficult to discern discrimination, weakening the effects of stronger state age discrimination protections.

Key Findings