Applied Research in Quality of Life

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 171–196 | Cite as

Do Involuntary Longer Working Careers Reduce Well-being?

  • Lieze SohierEmail author


This study examines the impact of working at older age on the individual’s overall well-being. The paper uses microdata from the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), and it controls for individual heterogeneity and for changes in the level of well-being during retirement. On average, older workers do not significantly differ from retirees regarding their life satisfaction level. In addition, this study takes into account the worker’s perceived freedom of choice in the decision to work longer (voluntary or forced). In this way, this research identifies a group of workers (“involuntary workers”) who experience a significantly lower level of well-being when continuing to work. After retiring, this group reports greater satisfaction with their lives but continues to suffer from being previously involuntarily employed. As result, these workers continue to be less satisfied with their lives than those who were voluntary workers. These findings have an important implication for the debate on longer working careers. The worker’s perceived freedom of choice in the decision to continue working is a determining factor in the individual well-being of older persons.


Life satisfaction Retirement Involuntary employment Longer working careers Aging 

JEL Classification

J26 J28 I31 


Funding Information

This paper uses data from Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) Waves 2, 4 and 5 (DOIs:,, The SHARE data collection has been primarily funded by the European Commission through the FP5 (QLK6-CT-2001-00360), FP6 (SHARE-I3: RII-CT-2006-062193, COMPARE: CIT5-CT-2005-028857) and FP7 (SHARE-PREP: N°211909, SHARE-LEAP: N°227822, SHARE M4: N°261982). Additional funding from the U.S. National Institute on Aging (U01_AG09740-13S2, P01_AG005842, P01_AG08291, P30_AG12815, R21_AG025169, Y1-AG-4553-01, IAG_BSR06-11, OGHA_04-064), the German Ministry of Education and Research and from various national funding sources is gratefully acknowledged (see This research is supported by the Special Research Fund of Ghent University and the National Bank of Belgium.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature and The International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Department of Social EconomicsGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

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