An ageing workforce and strategic human resource management: Staffing challenges for social security administrations


Roddy McKinnon, ISSA, 4 route des Morillons, CH1211 Geneva 22, Switzerland; Email: The views expressed here are those of the author and should not be attributed to the International Social Security Association. The author thanks David E. Bloom, Elizabeth Cafiero, Catherine Drummond, Mary Ferrari, Oscar Huerta-Melchor, Dennis Kealey, Malcolm Nutley, and Edward Tamagno for valuable insights and comments that helped shape this article. Thanks are also due to David Dillon, Sandra Van Neyen and Patricia Weinert for providing access to documentation.


Public-service employment grew rapidly through the 1970s and early 1980s in the high-income countries. During this period, the social protection sector was one of the areas that grew most extensively. Many of the public-service employees hired during these years have retired or are soon to do so. As a consequence, social security administrations across the OECD area are set to lose significant proportions of their current staff across all grades over a relatively short time-period. Despite calls for a greater use of strategic staff planning and a growing awareness of the challenges presented by an ageing public-service workforce, public-service organizations, including social security administrations, have been slow to react. This article addresses the human resource management challenges for social security administrations posed by an ageing public-sector workforce, outlines proposed policy responses and assesses the difficulties of successfully implementing these in a systematic manner.