The expected change in population age structure in all the EU countries will lead to a substantially higher proportion of older workers, with significant consequences for socioeconomic development. This essential change will have deep consequences and the most debated effect is on labor productivity. Although several studies have been conducted to examine the relationship between aging, workforce productivity and growth, relatively lower attention has been paid to non-instrumental factors that may have a particular impact on working age and productivity. Moving from a cultural economics standpoint, this paper aims to explore the relationships among culture, aging and productivity in the EU. In particular, our study investigates whether workers’ participation in cultural activities may be correlated to their productivity by stimulating their physical and mental capacities. The underlying hypothesis is that culture contributes to improving labor force attitudes and is therefore a relevant, additional explanatory variable when examining lower productivity due to population aging. We perform a multidimensional scaling (MDS) to explore similarities among the EU countries in terms of productivity, workforce aging and cultural participation in the years between 2006 and 2016. Both for 2006 and 2016 our data show a close and positive correlation between productivity and cultural consumption on the part of aging people. The correlation revealed by our analyses can be read in bidirectional terms, thus ultimately allowing us to tackle the crucial research question: is older workers’ productivity positively related to their participation in cultural activities?
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