Changing Retirement Transitions in Times of Paradigmatic Political Change: Toward Growing Inequalities



For almost three decades since the 1970s, many European countries followed a strategy of early retirement to mediate the repercussions of increasing globalization and rising economic insecurities (Blossfeld et al., 2006, 2011). Initially intended only as a temporary strategy, early retirement soon turned into a common political practice. The establishment of early retirement as a labor market phenomenon was accompanied by the gradual emergence of an “early retirement culture,” that is, the shared perception by both employers and employees of early retirement as a “normal” way to exit from employment. However, given foreseeable population and labor force aging, many European governments in the last decade have taken a paradigmatic shift from “early exit” to “active aging” policies aiming at the promotion of longer labor market maintenance of workers approaching formal retirement ages.


Labor Market Early Retirement Rational Choice Theory European Social Survey Retirement Decision 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bicchieri, C. (2006), The Grammar of Society: The Nature and Dynamics of Social Norms (New York: Cambridge University Press).Google Scholar
  2. Blöndal, S., and S. Scarpetta (1999), The Retirement Decision in OECD Countries, OECD Economics Department Working Papers 202 (OECD Publishing).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Blossfeld, H.-P., S. Buchholz, and K. Kurz (2011), Ageing Populations, Globalization and the Labour Market: Comparing Late Working Life and Retirement in Modern Societies (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. — — and D. Hofäcker (2006), Globalization, Uncertainty and Late Careers in Society (London: Routledge).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Coyle, C. E., and E. Dugan (2012), “Social Isolation, Loneliness and Health among Older Adults,” Journal of Aging and Health, 24(8), 1346–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Deller, J., and L. Maxin (2009), “Berufiche Aktivität von Ruheständlern,” Zeitschrift für Gerontologie und Geriatrie, 42(4), 305–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ebbinghaus, B. (2006), Reforming Early Retirement in Europe, Japan and the USA (Oxford: Oxford University Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. —, and Hofäcker, D. (2014), “Reversing Early Retirement in Advanced Welfare Economies — A Paradigm Shift to Overcome Push and Pull Factors,” Comparative Population Studies, 38(4), 807–40.Google Scholar
  9. Ekerdt, D. J. (1976), “Longitudinal Change in Preferred Age of Retirement,” Journal of Occupational Psychology, 49, 161–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. ESS (2008), Sampling for the European Social Survey- Round IV: Principles and Requirements (London: ESS).Google Scholar
  11. Esser, I. (2006), “Continued Work or Retirement? Preferred Exit-age in Western European Countries,” in E. Han (ed.), Ageing and the Labour Market: Issues and Solutions. Or Are There? FISS Series of International Studies on Social Security (Antwerp: Intersentia), pp. 43–80.Google Scholar
  12. Fasang, A. (2012), “Retirement Patterns and Income Inequality,” Social Forces, 90(3), 685–711.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Geuskens, G. (2012), “Predictors of the Willingness and the Ability to Continue Working Until the Age of 65 Years,” Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 54(5), 572–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gobeski, K. T., and T. A. Beehr (2009), “How Retirees Work: Predictors of Different Types of Bridge Employment,” Journal of Organizational Behavior, 30(3), 401–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Griffn, B., and B. Hesketh (2008), “Post-Retirement Work: The Individual Determinants of Paid and Volunteer Work,” Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 81, 101–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Guichard, S., and E. Rusticelli (2010), Assessing the Impact of the Financial Crisis on Structural Unemployment in OECD Countries, OECD Economics Department Working Papers No. 767.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Guillemard, A. M., and M. Rein (1993), “Comparative Patterns of Retirement — Recent Trends in Developed Societies,” Annual Review of Sociology, 19, 469–503.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hallberg, D., and G. Eklof (2010), “Do Buy-Outs of Older Workers Matter? Estimating Retirement Behavior with Special Early Retirement Offers,” International Journal of Manpower, 31(3), 337–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Higgs, P. et al. (2003), “Pathways to Early Retirement: Structure and Agency in Decision-Making among British Civil Servants,” Ageing & Society, 23, 761–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hofäcker, D. et al. (2012), “Does the Promotion of Extended Working Lives Foster the Emergence of New Inequalities? Comparing Trends and Determinants of Work-retirement Transitions in Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom,” Paper presented at the Symposium on Asian Perspectives on Social Stratifcation and Inequality, Tohoku University, Sendai, October 27–28.Google Scholar
  21. —, D. Frommert, and T. Heine (2010), “Perceptions of Pension Systems and Expectations of Own Retirement — A Pan-European Comparison,” Paper for the 2010 Social Policy Association Conference, University of Lincoln, UK.Google Scholar
  22. —, and S. Leth-Sørensen (2006), “Late Careers and Career Exits of Older Danish Workers,” in H.-P. Blossfeld, S. Buchholz, and D. Hofäcker (eds), Globalization, Uncertainty and Late Careers in Society (London: Routledge), pp. 255–79.Google Scholar
  23. —, and E. Naumann (2015), “The Emerging Trend of Work Beyond Retirement Age in Germany,” Zeitschrift für Gerontologie und Geriatrie, online frist.Google Scholar
  24. Hytti, H. (2004), “Early Exit from the Labour Market through the Unemployment Pathway in Finland,” European Societies, 6(3), 265–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Jepsen, M., D. Foden, and M. Hutsebaut (eds) (2002), Active Strategies for Older Workers (Brussels: ETUI).Google Scholar
  26. Kohli, M. et al. (eds) (1991), Time for Retirement: Comparative Studies of Early Exit from the Labour Force (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).Google Scholar
  27. Kroneberg, C., and F. Kalter (2012), “Rational Choice Theory and Empirical Research: Methodological and Theoretical Contributions in Europe,” Annual Review of Sociology, 38, 73–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lain, D. (2011), “Helping the Poorest Help Themselves? Encouraging Employment Past 65 in England and the USA,” Journal of Social Policy, 40, 493–512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. — (2012), “Working Past 65 in the UK and the USA: Segregation into ‘Lopaq’ Occupations?,” Work Employment and Society, 26(1), 78–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lillyman, S., and L. Land (2007), “Fear of Social Isolation: Results of a Survey of Older Adults in Gloucestershire,” Nursing Older People, 19(10), 26–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lim, V. (2003), “An Empirical Study of Older Workers Attitudes towards the Retirement Experience,” Employee Relations, 24(4), 330–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Maxin, L., and J. Deller (2010), “Beschäftigung statt Ruhestand: Individuelles Erleben von Silver Work,” Comparative Population Studies — Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft, 35(4), 767–800.Google Scholar
  33. Opp, K. D. (1999), “Contending Conceptions of the Theory of Rational Action,” Journal of Theoretical Politics, 11(2), 171–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Oude Hengel, K. et al. (2012), “Factors Associated with the Ability and Willingness to Continue Working Until the Age of 65 in Construction Workers,” International Archive of International & Environmental Health, 85(7), 783–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Palier, B. (2000), “‘Defrosting’ the French Welfare State,” West European Politics, 23(2), 113–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Parry, J., and R. F. Taylor (2007), “Orientation, Opportunity and Autonomy: Why People Work After State Pension Age in Three Areas of England,” Ageing & Society, 27, 579–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Perissinotto, C. M., I. S. Cenzer, and K. E. Covinsky (2012), “Loneliness in Older Persons a Predictor of Functional Decline and Death,” Archives of Internal Medicine, 172(14), 1078–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Phillipson, C., and S. Smith (2005), “Extending Working Life: A Review of Research Literature,” Research Report, No. 299 (Leeds: Department for Work and Pensions).Google Scholar
  39. Proper, K. et al. (2009), “Challenges at Work and Financial Rewards to Stimulate Longer Workforce Participation,” Human Resources for Health, 70(7),1–13.Google Scholar
  40. Radl, J. (2012), “Labour Market Exit and Social Stratifcation in Western Europe: The Effects of Social Class and Gender on the Timing of Retirement,” European Sociological Review, 29, 654–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Schils, T. (2008), “Early Retirement in Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom: A Longitudinal Analysis of Individual Factors and Institutional Regimes,” European Sociological Review, 24(3), 315–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Shultz, K. S., and W. Wang (2011), “Psychological Perspectives on the Changing Nature of Retirement,” American Psychologist, 66(3), 170–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Smeaton, D., and S. McKay (2003), “Working after State Pension Age: Quantitative Analysis,” Research Report No. 182 (Leeds: Department for Work and Pensions).Google Scholar
  44. Taylor-Gooby, P. (2004), New Risks, New Welfare (Oxford: Oxford University Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Templer, A., M. Armstrong-Stassen, and J. Cattaneo (2010), “Antecedents of Older Workers’ Motives for Continuing to Work,” Career Development International, 15(5), 479–500.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Van den Berg, P. (2011), “Characteristics of the Work Environment Related to Older Employees’ Willingness to Continue Working: Intrinsic Motivation as a Mediator,” Psychological Reports, 109(1), 147–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Vickerstaff, S. (2006), “‘I’d Rather Keep Running to the End and Then Jump Off the Cliff’. Retirement Decisions: Who Decides?,” Journal of Social Policy, 35, 455–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Wang, M., and K. S. Shultz (2010), “Employee Retirement: A Review and Recommendations for Future Investigation,” Journal of Management, 36(1), 172–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Westerlund, H., J. Vahtera et al. (2010), “Effect of Retirement on Major Chronic Conditions and Fatigue: French GAZEL Occupational Cohort Study,” BMJ, 341, 6149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Zappalà, S. et al. (2008), “Postponing Job Retirement? Psychosocial Influences on the Preference for Early or Late Retirement,” Career Development International, 13(2), 150–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Dirk Hofäcker, Moritz Hess and Elias Naumann 2015

Authors and Affiliations

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations