Germans past the age of 60 have seen their chances of employment rising over the past 20 years. This is not least a result of more and more women seeking or retaining jobs in the country, a research institute reveals. The labor force participation rate of Germans aged between 60 and 64 more than doubled over the past two decades, the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) reported on Monday. The IAB is affiliated to Germany\'s Federal Employment Agency in Nuremberg (BA). The think tank\'s study said that shortly after German unification in 1991 the participation rate in that age group was 20.8 percent and had now reached 44.2 percent. The institute attributed the steep rise to the soaring number of older women joining the labor market and the general improvement in older people\'s health. But it also put the development down to labor market reforms which had made it harder for Germans to strike financially sound early retirement deals with employers. No discrimination? The figures presented by the IAB are expected to reignite the debate about the official retirement age in the country, which now stands at 67. Critics have branded the higher retirement age a curtailment of pensions through the back door, claiming that employers would not be interested in providing more jobs for people past the age of 60. \"The higher labor force partition rate of people over 60 has more than compensated unfavorable demographic developments in the country,\" the IAB survey said. But the labor market researchers from Nuremberg warned that this trend could not be maintained in the long run. They expect the total workforce in Germany to drop by three million by 2025, adding that there will even be a shortfall of 10 million people by 2050.