EAST Dorset has a higher number of people aged over 50 in its workforce than anywhere else in the UK, a think-tank has discovered.

According to the International Longevity Centre, nearly 37 per cent of the people working in East Dorset have passed their half century.

In West Dorset 35 per cent of those in work are over 50, making it the eighth highest area with this age group of workers. Purbeck and the New Forest – the 18th and 19th highest respectively – have just over 33 per cent of their workforce aged over 50.

The ILC discovered that while the higher proportion of older people in a workforce appeared to lower the overall level of productivity, the higher the proportion of over 70s in a local population, the higher the rate of productivity growth.

Assistant Director of Research and Policy, Ben Franklin, said: “An older workforce may be a drag on output, but an ageing population could raise the rate of productivity growth. With reference to English Local Authority data, this report provides support to both prevailing conclusions regarding the impacts of ageing on productivity.”

The paper argues that whilst rising life expectancy and other factors might raise the age at which productivity peaks, the broad shape of a worker’s lifetime productivity curve is likely to remain, meaning that a higher share of older workers will likely drag down overall levels of productivity.

Their paper suggests that this may be because work suffers from diminishing returns - that for every additional year worked, there is a relatively smaller gain in output.

The ILC says that 'productivity growth is arguably the greatest economic challenge of our time', with the UK’s typical rate of growth over the last five years standing at just 0.2%.

The ILC’s report comes after a recent pledge by eight leading companies, including Aviva, Boots and Barclays, to increase the number of over-50s in their workforce by 12 per cent.

The pledge, which is part of an initiative to secure a million additional jobs for older workers, will also see companies publish data on the age of their workforce as they seek to reach their recruitment targets by 2022.