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Firing Senior Workers in the 1940s

When Arthur Miller wrote Death of a Salesman in the late 1940s, pension plans were rare and Social Security was new and not comprehensive. The labor force participation rate for elderly men was high. Indeed, one of the major labor market trends thereafter was the decline of labor force participation of the (male) elderly until the 1990s. For that reason, the firing scene in this video clip would have been particularly powerful to audiences. Indeed, the main character tells us that he went into selling after observing another salesman who literally was able to work until he dropped. Ideas of retirement were not widespread at the time.
Length: 05:09


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