The declining participation of older people in the workforce has become a matter of concern in many parts of the world, including the European Union. Steps however taken to date to increase the participation of older people have proceeded on the basis of a limited understanding of the identities of these individuals and the consequences for employment. We report findings from a discourse analytic study of the understandings of 15 older non-employed individuals. Participants negotiated two different forms of identity, either drawing upon age discrimination or in minimising the relevance of employment to them. Both forms of identity orient to employment as a moral issue but each has different effects for the importance of finding employment and for the actions that are appropriate to the individual. Future efforts to promote greater participation of older people in the workforce need to acknowledge the various identities available to older non-employed people. © 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved
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