Extending working life - a longitudinal life-course approach

Morton Blekesaune and Mark Taylor, University of Essex

[Project number 20111]

This research will investigate how far early life-course transitions and situations can predict when and how elderly workers leave employment. It will utilise longitudinal data, a life-course approach to retirement, as well as investigating the effects of more immediate predictors of employment and retirement by elderly workers. The analysis of earlier predictors will have a more exploratory character, limited to available data, since these effects are much less known from previous research compared to later predictors.

The Department for Work and Pensions would encourage people to extend their working life before retiring. The average retirement age fell during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s and increased life expectancy makes pensions more costly to employers, the state and to private pension providers.

Much is already known about how factors recorded close to the retirement affect the exit from work, including the effects of health and disability, economic incentives, and pension entitlements. Less is known about how factors in previous stages of the life course also affect employment and retirement after age 50. A recent literature review (Phillipson and Smith 2005) has highlighted the need to understand more about early life course factors including multiple life course transitions, multiple forms of disadvantage, and the formation of preferences for continued work versus retirement.