Age is a key barrier to work opportunities for people: LinkedIn Opportunity Index


LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, has launched LinkedIn Opportunity Index 2020 today. The Index is a composite measure that seeks to understand how people perceive opportunity and more importantly, the gaps in getting to those opportunities. The research surveyed over 30,000 respondents in 22 markets globally.

According to the research, people want to find opportunities that allow them to pursue their passion, have work-life balance, and job security. However, people generally feel that lack of financial resources, ageism and a difficult job market stand in the way of finding those opportunities.

Pockets of optimism amidst uncertain economic outlook for 2020 

Globally, people feel pessimistic about the state of their economy, but there are signs that this perception is changing. While 46 per cent of respondents said that they feel their economic situation has gotten worse in the past 12 months prior to the survey, only 40 per cent said they feel the situation will worsen in the next 12 months. This glimmer of hope is further underscored by 45 per cent of respondents who feel confident about finding better opportunities this year.

“This research gives us a sense of how confident people are that there is an opportunity out there for them. It’s comforting to see that despite the backdrop of worry about all that is going on in the world, people are still encouraged about their opportunities to get ahead,” said Karin Kimbrough, Chief Economist at LinkedIn. “But we also know that the way we live and work is changing rapidly, and that people across the globe will have to adapt and adjust to take advantage of the opportunities the new economy will bring. It’s on each of us to create the environment that helps people reach their ambitions -- to help people take risks or invest in themselves so they earn skills and experience, and build networks that help them get the jobs they want.

This year, developing markets, India, Indonesia, China, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the Philippines felt most optimistic about opportunities - driven by people’s confidence in their economic growth potential, as well as their confidence in gaining access to and pursuing opportunities they identified as important. People in Mexico and Brazil also demonstrated strong optimism overall.

On the other hand, the more developed markets such as Japan, France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom placed below the baseline score of “100”. This denotes less optimism than others, as people in these markets expressed concerns over economic outlook, and generally felt more cautious about their chances of accessing and achieving success with opportunities that are relevant to them. The United States is an exception - while it’s one of the world’s most  developed nations, people are still optimistic about the availability of opportunities and confident in achieving success at these opportunities despite a weaker economic outlook.

The global workforce is the backbone of the world economy, and to sustain economic growth, an understanding of the way people access opportunity is very important. Over time, by measuring how people around the world perceive their access to opportunity, LinkedIn aims to engage in a global dialogue on creating economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.

Ability to pursue one’s passion, achieve work-life balance and job security matter the most, but lack of financial resources, age and the job market stand in the way

About 40 per cent of the respondents want to pursue their passions and attain work-life balance and 38 per cent are striving for job security, globally. For half of the Boomers surveyed, keeping their bodies and minds active is the top priority.  In Asia Pacific and the UAE, work-life balance is the top most desired opportunity, while in Europe and North America, it is about pursuing their passions. In Brazil and Mexico, job security and stability are the most important for them.

Globally, the lack of financial resources (24%), age (21%) and difficult job market (21%) stood out as the top three opportunity gaps that stand in the way of achieving opportunities. In fact, about 45 per cent of Boomers highlighted their age as the main roadblock as they pursue an active lifestyle and their passions at work. While often recognized as a barrier for older workers, age also manifests itself as a barrier in a different way for younger workers (Gen Z), such as a lack of work experience (25%) and confidence (21%), as well as the lack of direction and guidance (13%).

Age as a barrier is the most pronounced in Europe, as well as in Australia and Japan with an aging workforce. This reflects a sense of anxiety in face of uncertain macro-economic outlook coupled with factors like age, which require a mindset shift. Contrary to popular belief, people are not resistant to change. While working hard (81%) tops the list of what it takes to get ahead in life, willingness to embrace change (80%) came in a close second. People recognize that they have to work hard; and adopt a growth mindset and lifelong learning, as the economic landscape and job market evolves.

Businesses’ role to make the multigenerational workforce work 

With longer lifespan, people are working well beyond their retirement years - making multigenerational workforce a reality among businesses with up to four generations of employees working together for the very first time. This calls for businesses to recognize that the different age groups can complement and help one another. More companies can be an enabler of change and foster an inclusive workforce to help everyone succeed. Embracing multigenerational workforce will be key to navigating an evolving job market and harness it as a growth driver of today’s economy.



Note to editors

LinkedIn commissioned independent market research firm, GfK to conduct this study between September and October 2019. The survey was conducted among 18 to 65 year olds across 22 countries via online interviews. The survey had more than 30,000 respondents:

  • North America: Canada, United States
  • Latin America: Brazil, Mexico
  • Middle East: United Arab Emirates
  • Europe: France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom
  • Asia Pacific: Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore

Age groups were classified as:

  • Gen Z (18 - 22 years old)
  • Millennials (23 - 38 years old)
  • Gen X (39 - 54 years old)
  • Boomers (55 - 65 years old)

This survey was fielded from September to October 2019 and represents the world-view of survey respondents at that time.


LinkedIn Opportunity Index measures a market’s level of confidence with regards to the economy and the pursuit of opportunity and uses “100” as the baseline score. A higher score represents greater optimism from respondents living in a specific country.

The seven factors that contributed to a composite measure of opportunity were the same as LinkedIn Opportunity Index 2018, and are as follows:

Perceptions around socio-economic and lifestyle factors:

  • Outlook on economy over the next 12 months
  • Outlook on respondents’ financial situation over the next 12 months
  • Quality of life specifically happiness
  • Quality of life compared to previous generation/parents

Perceptions around opportunity:

  • Availability of in-market opportunities
  • Assessment on accessibility of opportunity over the next 12 months
  • Confidence in achieving success