Study finds kibbutz is last preserve of work ethic for over-50s

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February 15, 2006 00:45
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.Although a growing number of kibbutzim have become privatized and lost their socialist philosophy, the kibbutz still constitutes the bastion of the the country's work ethic. A new Haifa University study shows that as kibbutz members age work occupies an increasingly important place in their lives - the opposite trend compared to the general population, for whom work loses its central value as workers grow older. The centrality of work for kibbutz members over 50 is greater than for younger members, according to Yifat Silber, who conducted the study under the guidance of Prof. Yitzhak Harpaz. She also found that 83.7 percent of kibbutz members over 60 wanted to continue working even when there was no economic necessity to do so. The researcher pointed out that these findings contrasted with earlier studies showing a downward trend in the centrality work among those aged 50 and over. Those studies also showed a growing unwillingness of people to work if they didn't need the money as they came closer to retirement age. Silber interviewed for her study 367 kibbutz members in different parts of the country. "In kibbutz society," she noted, "the idea of retiring and being pensioned off still has not taken root. Kibbutz members feel they must continue to work at any cost, under any condition, because this conforms to kibbutz norms." "Retirement in the eyes of older kibbutz members is seen as conflicting with kibbutz values, which is grounded in activity, involvement, and contributing to the kibbutz," she added. Because the kibbutz has in recent years taken on marketplace-like norms, including forced retirement, Silber advises kibbutz human resource personnel to pay attention to her study. "They should plan the retirement process for older members and include workshops on the subject," she advises. "At the same time, they should look for alternatives to employment, such as volunteering. This would respond to these members' need for work even if they don't need a livelihood after retirement."


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