A new report published today finds that one in every five low paid workers in Ireland is aged over 50.
The study, which was undertaken by researchers at UCD, provides the first detailed profile of Ireland's older lower paid workers.
It finds that of the 420,000 low paid workers in Ireland, around 80,000 are aged over 50.
Low paid women aged over 50 earn less than similarly aged low paid men.
Older low paid workers are more likely to be employed in administrative and healthcare/caring roles and less likely to be in the retail, accommodation and food sectors.
Older low paid workers are more likely to live in one to two adult households, be the only worker in their household and own the property they live in, with more than half owning their property mortgage free.
By contrast, most low paid workers live in multi-adult and multi-worker households and are twice as likely to be renters.
As part of the study, 20 low paid older workers were interviewed and all identified financial needs and concerns as an important driver for them to work but there were other reasons given.
Lead author of the report Dr Micheál Collins said: "While income is important for this group, their participation and continued participation as workers is also linked to other objectives including better lifestyle balance and social interaction.
"This research underscores a need to understand the participation of older workers in the labour market beyond the perspectives of earnings and productivity."
Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Dr Collins said that in an aging society, the trend will continue to grow as the number of workers in the country aged over 50 had doubled in recent years.
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He added that the report gave a new insight into the gender pay gap, with a heavier concentration of women in caring and administration roles.
He said that older people will continue to work in low paid roles due to their skills, need for finance and the value they place on social inclusion they get from work.
Others are trading off lower pay for convenience, he added.
Fellow author Dr Catherine Elliott O’Dare said that understanding the scale of the group, their probable growth over time and the set of influences that determine their participation in low paid employment carries important implications for future policies for older workers.
The study was funded by a research bursary from the Low Pay Commission.
Chairman of the Low Pay Commission Ultan Courtney said: "It is easy to think of low paid workers as younger workers taking on temporary low paid jobs as they transition into better paid employment.
"But this study draws our attention to the fact that older workers comprise one-fifth of the total low paid population, with almost one in six workers over 50 receiving low pay."