For the first time in history, the Earth has more people over the age of 65 than under the age of five. The world’s greying is inevitable. Ageing slows growth in several ways. But the biggest hit to growth comes from weakening productivity.
Why are older economies less productive? The answer is not, as one might suppose, that older workers are. Though some capabilities, notably physical ones, deteriorate with age, the overall effect is not dramatic. A study of Germany’s manufacturing sector published in 2016 failed to detect a drop-off in productivity in workers up to the age of 60. Companies can tweak employees’ roles as they get older in order to make best use of the advantages of age, such as extensive experience and professional connections.
Furthermore, if weak productivity growth was caused by older workers producing less, pay patterns should reflect that. Wages would tend to rise at the beginning of a career and fall towards its end. But that is not what usually happens. Rather, according to a recent paper by economists at Moody’s Analytics, a consultancy, wages are lower for everyone in companies with lots of older workers. It is not older workers’ falling productivity that seems to hold back the economy, but their influence on those around them.
How this influence makes itself felt is unclear. But the authors suggest that companies with more older workers might be less eager to embrace new technologies. That might be because they are reluctant to make investments that would require employees to be retrained, given the shorter period over which they could hope to make a return on that training for those near the end of their careers. Or older bosses might be to blame. Research indicates that younger managers are more likely to adopt new technologies than are older ones. This may seem obvious: older people’s greater aversion to new technology is a stereotype. And at least anecdotally, greying industries do seem more unwilling to change.
If the evidence suggested that ageing economies struggled primarily because of slow-growing labour forces, it would make sense to focus policy efforts on keeping people in work longer—by raising retirement ages, for example. But if, as seems to be the case, reticence to embrace new technologies is a bigger issue, other goals should take priority—in particular, boosting competition. The benefits of breaking up powerful firms and increasing competition might be even bigger than thought, if conservative old firms are thereby spurred to make better use of newer technologies.
36. The study of Germany’s manufacturing sector shows that ______.
[A] physical capabilities have huge impacts on workers’ productivity
[B] older workers’ productivity does not decline with their age
[C] people’s productivity is determined by how old they are
[D] older workers are not favored by the manufacturing sector
37. What is true about wages according to Paragraph 3?
[A] Older workers tend to get higher wages than younger ones.
[B] Old workers’ productivity has a great influence on others’ wages.
[C] People in companies with many older employees may get low wages.
[D] Wages usually rise when a career begins and fall when it comes to an end.
38. Why are companies with more older workers not willing to adopt new technologies?
[A] There are no effective means available to train those old workers.
[B] Older people are slow in learning how to use new technologies.
[C] Those companies are faced with a decline in productivity growth.
[D] Investing in retraining senior workers may not bring a return in a short term.
39. The word “aversion” (Para. 4) is closest in meaning to ______?
40. According to Paragraph 5, the productivity of ageing economies can be increased by ______.
[A] raising the retirement age of workers
[B] bringing in cheap foreign labor forces
[C] encouraging powerful firms to develop branches
[D] urging old firms to better apply new technologies
【解析】本题为细节题。根据题干关键词The study of Germany’s manufacturing sector可定位至原文第二段④句。该句介绍了研究发现的具体内容：年纪高至60岁的工人，其生产率并未随年纪增长而下降。B项older workers’ productivity may not decline with their age(年长员工的生产率可能不会随着年龄的增长而下降)是对该句中failed to detect a drop-off in productivity的进一步解释。故正确答案为B。
【干扰项】A项physical capabilities can greatly affect workers’ productivity(与身体相关的能力会极大地影响工人的生产率)与该段③句the overall effect is not dramatic内容相悖。C项people’s productivity is determined by how old they are(人们的生产率是由他们的年龄决定的)信息错误，与研究发现的内容不符。D项older workers are not favored by the manufacturing sector(年长的工人不受制造业的青睐)也属于错误信息，该段⑤句指出年长的工人有丰富的经验和职场人脉，由此可知年长的工人并非是不受青睐的。
【解析】本题为细节题。根据题干关键词wages和Paragraph 3可定位至原文第三段①句，wages与句中pay patterns对应。下文②句和④句的内容也与wages有关。C项People in companies with many older employees may get low wages(在有很多年长员工的公司里，员工的工资可能会偏低)是对该段④句中wages are lower for everyone in companies with lots of older workers的同义转述。故正确答案为C。
【干扰项】A项Older workers tend to get lower wages than younger ones(年长员工的工资往往比年轻员工的工资低)是对该段②句的曲解，原文只是一种假设，且没有提到年长和年轻员工的工资对比。B项Old workers’ productivity has a great influence on others’ wages(年长员工的生产率对其他人的工资有很大的影响)是对该段⑤句中their influence on those around them的错误理解，原文只是强调年长员工对周遭劳动者的影响会阻碍经济增长。D项Wages usually rise when a career begins and fall when it comes to an end(工资会在劳动者职业生涯的前期上升，在后期下降)来自该段②句，但下文③句提到But that is not what usually happens，否定了这一设想，所以D项也是错误信息。
【解析】本题为细节题。根据题干可定位至原文第四段②句，companies with more older workers not willing to adopt new technologies与句中companies with more older workers might be less eager to embrace new technologies对应。题干问的是原因，下文③句because提示了答案所在。D项Investing in retraining senior workers may not bring a return in a short term(投资于年长员工的再培训可能不会在短期内带来回报)是对③句shorter period over which they could hope to make a return on that training的同义转述。故正确答案为D。
【干扰项】A项There are no effective means available to train those old workers(没有有效的方法来培训那些老员工)属于无中生有，原文并未提及相关信息。B项Older people are slow in learning how to use new technologies(老员工学习如何使用新技术的速度很慢)是对下文⑥⑦句的错误解读，原文主要说的是老员工对新技术的态度，并未提到老员工的学习能力。C项Those companies are faced with a decline in productivity growth(这些公司正面临生产率下降的局面)属于因果倒置，正是因为这些公司不愿采用新技术才导致生产率下降。
【解析】本题为词义句意题。根据题干关键词aversion和Para. 4可定位至原文第四段⑥句。该句主要说的是老年人对新技术的态度，下文⑦句对此做出了进一步解释。由⑦句提到的greying industries do seem more unwilling to change可知老年人是不愿意改变的，aversion表达的意思应与unwilling to相近。A项resistance(抗拒)符合句意要求。故正确答案为A。
【解析】本题为细节题。根据题干关键词Paragraph 5和ageing economies可定位至原文第五段①句，该句通过假设老龄化经济体发展疲软的主因是劳动力增长缓慢提出了提高退休年龄的建议，但下文②句对此进行了否定并提出了真正可行的建议。③句则进一步指出：如果能推动保守的老企业更好地利用新技术，促进竞争的作用会更大。D项urging old firms to better apply new technologies(敦促老公司更好地应用新技术)是对该句的合理推断。故正确答案为D。
【干扰项】该段②句But if, as seems to be the case, reticence to embrace new technologies is a bigger issue否定了上文提到的“提高退休年龄”的建议，所以A项raising the retirement age of workers(提高员工的退休年龄)错误。B项bringing in cheap foreign labor forces(引进廉价的外国劳动力)的建议针对的是①句提到的because of slow-growing labour forces，但下文否定了这一原因且原文并未提及这一建议。C项encouraging powerful firms to develop branches(鼓励有实力的公司发展分公司)是对该段③句提到的breaking up powerful firms的错误解读，原文建议的是将强势企业分拆成一个个小公司，让这些公司互相竞争。