Journal of Population Ageing

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 311–328 | Cite as

Productive Ageing Regimes in Europe: Welfare State Typologies Explaining Elderly Europeans’ Participation in Paid and Unpaid Work

  • Susanne StraussEmail author
  • Kathrin Trommer


The share of elderly in European populations has grown and these elderly are living healthier and longer lives. Policy makers in Europe have accordingly identified an increasing potential for this group to participate in different forms of paid and unpaid activities. In order to systematize European elderly’s productive activities, the article proceeds in two steps: First, it reviews previous research on country differences in European elderly’s participation in employment, informal care for elderly relatives and volunteering in clubs and associations. Based on data from the European Social Survey (ESS), in a second step we assess the analytical potential of different welfare state typologies, using linear regression models. Our analyses measure to what extent the typologies, which were developed for the general population, are suitable for explaining country differences in the elderly’s participation in paid and unpaid productive activities. We conclude that the north-south gradient, which we observe for all three types of productive ageing activities of elderly Europeans is mainly related to the role which welfare states attribute to the family. Welfare states with a high degree of de-familialisation fare best in encouraging their elderly men and women to participate in all types of paid and unpaid productive activities.


Aging Employment Europe Family Social capital Welfare state 



We kindly thank the participants of the doctoral colloquium in Empirical Social Research at the University of Konstanz, Germany, as well as participants of the RC 28 Summer Meeting 2016 in Bern, Switzerland, for valuable comments. Moreover, we thank the three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. European Social Survey data were kindly provided by Norwegian Social Science Data Services.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


This work was supported by the German Research Foundation (grant no. STR 1322/2–1, AOBJ: 604,774).

Supplementary material

12062_2017_9184_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (251 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 251 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of History and SociologyUniversity of KonstanzKonstanzGermany

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