Administrators, faculty, policy makers, and others who recognize the importance of the nation's basic research system were particularly concerned about possible adverse effects on the research universities.
As a part of the 1986 amendments, Congress directed the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to ask the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study analyzing ''the potential consequences of the elimination of mandatory retirement in institutions of higher education'' (ADEA, 1986, Section 12(c)).
It was further complicated by the need to evaluate the effects of something that had not yet occurred, since most of the states that have eliminated mandatory retirement have done so within the past few years.
Although the committee could not avoid the exercise of its judgment in a matter of this complexity, it based that judgment on all the available relevant data it could obtain.
The amendments included an exemption, which terminates at the end of 1993, permitting mandatory retirement of any employee who is serving under a contract of unlimited tenure at an institution of higher education and who has attained 70 years of age (ADEA, 1986, Section 12(d)).
Congress passed legislation amending the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967 to prohibit mandatory retirement on the basis of age for almost all workers.
Institutional policies affect faculty retirement patterns, and changes in those policies could provide a basis for responding to the elimination of mandatory retirement.
Thus, in order to estimate the costs and benefits of the potential elimination of mandatory retirement, the committee considered whether policies—both institutional and congressional—exist that would mitigate the potential adverse effects of uncapping.
The task was complicated by its scope: to assess the effects of removing mandatory retirement on more than 3,200 colleges and universities and to assess the behavior, under new circumstances and at a future date, of nearly 300,000 current tenured faculty as well as an unknown number of future faculty members.
The committee reviewed current faculty retirement patterns as well as studies projecting future patterns.
The committee also examined college and university tenure, evaluation, and retirement policies.
An increase in the number of faculty over age 70 or, more generally, an increase in the average age of faculty does not by itself, as distinct from reduced turnover, affect institutional quality.
Available evidence does not show significant declines in faculty performance caused by age.