Maximising workforce participation for older New Zealanders

Sikh older driver

A research program supported by Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment through the Endeavour Fund 2017-2022


As the proportion of older people in New Zealand grows, a need for older people to remain in the work force for longer is highlighted. While most developed countries are struggling with the issue of supporting longer working lives, New Zealand is poised to lead the world in realising the benefits of an ageing population. Maximising workforce participation by older workers will provide a "triple dividend" for New Zealand with the potential to: benefit the economy by reducing social expenditure for early workforce exit while increasing revenue from taxes; benefit business by moderating the impact of demographic change on the labour market, and; help older workers through improved wealth and wellbeing. However, many Kiwis aged 55 and over are unemployed or underemployed and others wish to work beyond 65. To provide a comprehensive solution to the research question we will use a complex research design which includes five specific research aims.

The project seeks to answer the crucial question for an ageing population: How can government, employers and workers maximise older New Zealanders’ participation in the workforce? The research, developed by the Health and Ageing Research Team through engagement with government and business stakeholders and the team’s Māori Advisory Group, will contribute innovative and sustainable strategies to extend working lives and enable unemployed or under-employed older New Zealanders to contribute to the workforce. Methods will include surveying a longitudinal cohort, business case studies, kaupapa Māori research, and interviews to address four areas of key importance for enabling older workers to engage in the workforce. This research will contribute directly to policy development and employer practices to enable older people to engage productively in the workforce, contribute to the economy, and realise the benefits of an ageing population.

Key outputs

  • Longitudinal self reported surveys of over 5000 older Kiwis
  • Qualitative interviews with older entrepreneurs
  • Longitudinal qualitative interviews with caregivers
  • Business case studies

Research team

Check out our interdisciplinary research team led by Professor Christine Stephens and Professor Fiona Alpass and supported by an international advisory group.

Further information

Health and Ageing Research Team
Comprehensive information about the activities and findings of the Health and Ageing Research Team can be found at

New Zealand Health, Work and Retirement Study
Access to survey information, technical reports, project reports and newsletters are provided on this project's we pages.

If you want more information about the Maximising workforce participation for older New Zealanders research program, please contact Professor Fiona Alpass by email: