Healthy ageing: life transitions, life choices and health at older ages

David Blane, Imperial College London and Bola Akinwale, Office for National Statistics

[Project number 20103]

This project will be the exploratory phase of analysis for a wider research project on Healthy Ageing. Data on LS members who were aged 50 or over at the 1971, 1981 or 1991 Censuses will be used to examine the relationship between labour market participation, health and mortality at older ages. The analysis will be primarily descriptive to determine the feasibility of more complex multivariate modelling. Results will be used to plan further analysis based on the LS.

The 'longevity revolution' in Western societies has prompted consideration of the economic and social implications of an ageing population such as the costs of health and social care provision, and the social impact of evolving lifestyle patterns among the post-retirement age population. In response to these issues, recent evidence initiatives by British policy-makers have focused on the extension of working life among people in middle age and early old age, the promotion of civic engagement among retired people through volunteering opportunities, and have examined the future of pensions provisions for mid-career workers and succeeding cohorts. However, research is still needed to understand later life pathways and inform policy on the form and implications of employment at older ages.

This analysis will examine life choices and life transitions among 'third agers' (50s to 70s), focusing on the various forms of labour market exit, and the connection between labour market position and health.

The LS includes information on some 150,000 people aged 50 and over at each Census. It is currently the only longitudinal resource with the large sample sizes and maturity needed to conduct prospective analysis of the health and labour market experiences of the population aged 50 and over.