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The (mis)use of SD as age diversity measure

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Subtitle:introducing the mean SD
The aging population trend and the associated growing share of older employees lead to high levels of workplace age diversity, which has inspired many researchers to examine the implications. In this paper, we show that the prevalent use of the standard deviation (SD) as age diversity measurement may hinder the field in unraveling the effects of age diversity. While SD is known as an operationalization of age diversity as separation – i.e., the clustering of work units in distinct age-based subgroups – we argue and show that SD does not fit well with the concept of age separation due to its sensitivity to large age differences. We develop and introduce the mean standard deviation (MSD) as alternative age separation measure. This novel measure is based on SD but is less sensitive to large age differences. We empirically substantiate our concerns and the value of MSD using simple examples of fictitious work units and two simulation analyses. We suggest that age diversity scholars use MSD for examining the effects of workplace age diversity as separation. By introducing MSD to the age diversity measurement toolbox, we want to improve the conceptual clarity, measurement, and empirical testing of workplace age diversity.
Journal: Work, aging and retirement
ISSN: 2054-4650
Volume: 9
Pages: 44 - 58
Publication year:2023
Keywords:A1 Journal article