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Abstract

Did Age Discrimination Protections Help Older Workers Weather the Great Recession?
David Neumark and Patrick Button
WP 2013-287

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 younger 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 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, or because higher termination costs associated with stronger age discrimination protections do more to deter hiring when future product and labor demand is highly uncertain.

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