Aging and shift work: A complex problem to face

Giovanni Costa, Lee Di Milia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The baby boomer generation is well into the 50+ age bracket, making it one of the largest demographic age cohorts. Whereas this cohort would have previously considered retirement, the evidence suggests that it will remain in the workforce for a longer period in response to a number of social and economic drivers. Mandatory retirement has either been abolished or is under consideration. An increased and healthier life expectancy means that people may work longer for financial and/or psychological reasons. In addition, a global shortage of skilled labor will result in efforts to keep employees in the workplace for longer periods. These trends have a number of implications for working time. What are the health implications of an aging workforce? How do we sustain good work ability into the latter years? What do we know about aging and shift work? What actions are required in the workplace to assist aging workers? This paper is not a comprehensive review of the literature but serves to highlight the complexities in understanding the relationship between shift work and aging. We discuss aging and human function and, in particular, the impact of aging on the circadian system. In addition, we outline new policy directions in this area and raise several suggestions to assist the well-being of aging workers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-181
Number of pages17
JournalChronobiology International
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2008


  • Aging
  • Employment
  • Policy
  • Shift-work intolerance
  • Work ability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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