Life-Course Influences on Paid Work Beyond Retirement Age: Quantitative and Qualitative Evidence

Monday, July 14, 2014: 5:45 PM
Room: Booth 40
Oral Presentation
Simone SCHERGER , Emmy Noether research Group, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany
Anna HOKEMA , Emmy Noether Research Group "Work beyond Retirement Age", University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany
Work post retirement age is on the rise in many Western countries. Our contribution aims at shedding light on the factors driving post-retirement work in Germany and the UK. Our perspective is cross-sectional, but will nonetheless focus on individual life-course influences on post-retirement work. Regarding these influences, two intertwined areas can be distinguished: influences connected to the employment history, and influences connected to the family and the personal network.

As to employment histories, they shape the ability, the opportunities and the desire to work beyond retirement age in different ways. However, the underlying patterns are not unidirectional: On the one hand, interruptions and non-standard employment are related to lower old-age incomes and a potential higher desire for additional income in old age – a relationship that is at the same time differentiated by the specific institutional setting. On the other hand, a continuous employment career, especially in higher occupational classes, seems to be connected with better employment opportunities in old age and a stronger work identity. The latter relationships are also mediated by family histories. Additionally, family histories and personal networks also constitute important independent influences.

The contribution will first present quantitative evidence on these relationships, based on the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing and the German Ageing Survey. In a second step, evidence from qualitative interviews with working pensioners from the UK and Germany will be presented. This evidence helps to elucidate the (complex) subjective mechanisms ‘behind’ some of the quantitative relationships. The interviews suggest that the experience of work beyond retirement age is overall positive, with paid work being seen as a way to do something meaningful, to stay in touch with other people, or to structures one’s day. In the final discussion these results will be connected to the country-specific debates around work in old age.