This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Saved From the Silver Tsunami?

Oxford University demographer David Coleman has argued for years that Europe's aging population does not need to be saved by immigrants, but rather by higher productivity from its existing work force. Auto manufacturer BMW has been experimenting with this idea in its Bavarian plants. CBS News Sunday Morning featured the story as its Labor Day headliner, but the story first appeared in the Harvard Business Review last March. BMW has found that as workers reach their fifties, they slow down and experience more sick days, which lowers productivity. So, the company developed a pilot project in which it instituted a variety of assembly line adjustments, such as allowing workers to sit rather than stand, and providing opportunities for stretch breaks. The results have been impressive:
The direct investment in the project was almost negligible, approximately €20,000. But the 70 changes increased productivity by 7% in one year, bringing the line on a par with lines in which workers were, on average, younger.

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