Paid work between age 60 and 70 years in Europe

Main Article Content

Kathrin Komp
Theo van Tilburg
Marjolein Broese van Groenou


Over the past years, older persons’ workforce participation has increased and, after years of studying early retirement, the focus has gradually shifted to workforce participation between age 60 and 70 years. Those are the years directly below and above the mandatory retirement age in most of the European countries. We investigate the influence of socio-economic status (SES) on older persons’ workforce participation. Moreover, we study whether the importance of private pensions in a country modifies the effect of SES. Survey data from eleven European countries are analysed in multilevel analyses. Results show that paid work in old age is the domain of persons with high SES. Moreover, a high share of private pensions in a country diminishes the influence of occupational prestige on men’s workforce participation. This suggests that older persons with low SES deserve particular attention in labour market reforms. Additionally, it suggests that pension reforms be monitored concerning their effects on social inequalities.


Metrics Loading ...

Article Details

Articles in a Special Issue


Arber, S., Davidson, K. & Ginn, J. (eds.), (2003). Gender and Ageing. Changing Roles and Relationships. Maidenhead & Philadelphia, PA: Open University Press.

Atkinson, A. B., Rainwater, L. & Smeeding, T. M. (1995). Income Distribution in OECD Countries: Evidence from the Luxembourg Income Study. Paris: OECD.

Atkinson, T. (2009). A stress test for the welfare state. In A. Hemerijck, B. Knapen & E. Van Doorne (eds.), Aftershocks. Economic Crisis and Institutional Choice (pp. 207–211). Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Beehr, T. A., Glazer, S., Nielson, N. L. & Farmer, S. J. (2000). Work and nonwork predictors of employees’ retirement ages. Journal of Vocational Behaviour 57(2): 206–225. [Read this article]

Börsch-Supan, A. & Jürges, H. (2005). The Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe. Methodology. Mannheim: Mannheim Research Institute for the Economics of Aging.

Brauns, H., Scherer, S. & Steinmann, S. (2003). The CASMIN educational classification in international comparative research. In J. H. P. Hoffmeyer-Zlotnik & C. Wolf (eds.), Advances in Cross-National Comparison. A European Working Book (pp. 221–244). New York: Kluwer.

Butrica, B. A., Smith, K. E. & Toder, E. J. (2009). What the 2008 Stock Market Crash means for Retirement Security. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute, The Retirement Policy Program. (Discussion Paper 09–03).

Carstensen, L. L. (1995). Evidence for a life-span theory of socioemotional selectivity. Current Directions in Psychological Science 4: 151–156. [Read this article]

Casey, B. (2009). Redundancy and early retirement: The interaction of public and private policy in Britain, Germany and the USA. British Journal of Industrial Relations 30(3): 425–443. [Read this article]

Choi, N. G. (2001). Relationship between life satisfaction and postretirement employment among older women. The International Journal of Aging and Human Development 52(1): 45–70. [Read this article]

Crystal, S. & Shea, D. (1990). Cumulative advantage, cumulative disadvantage, and inequality among elderly people. The Gerontologist 30(4): 437–443.

Cumming, E. & Henry, W. E. (1961). Growing Old: The Process of Disengagement. New York: Basic Books.

De Vroom, B. & Bannink, D. (2008). Changing life courses and new social risks: The case of old age pensions. Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis 10(1): 75–92. [Read this article]

Ebbinghaus, B. (2006). Reforming Early Retirement in Europe, Japan and the United States. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [Read this article]

Esping-Andersen, G. (1996). Welfare States in Transition. London: Sage.

Esping-Andersen, G., Gallie, D., Hemerijck, A. & Myles, J. (2002). Why We Need a New Welfare State. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [Read this article]

European Commission (2007). Social Protection in the Member States of the European Union, of the European Economic Area and in Switzerland, Situation on 1 January 2007. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.

Eurostat (2009). Activity Rates by Sex, Age Groups and Nationality (%). Available on employment_unemployment_lfs/data/database (Accessed: March 15, 2010).

Fitoussi, J.-P. (2009). The problem of social deflation. In A. Hemerijck, B. Knapen & E. Van Doorne (eds.), Aftershocks. Economic Crisis and Institutional Choice (pp. 74–81). Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Frederiksen, A. & Westergaard-Nielsen, N. (2007). Where did they go? Modelling transitions out of jobs. Labour Economics 14(5): 811–828. [Read this article]

Galobardes, B., Shaw, M., Lawlor, D. A., Lynch, J.W. & Smith, G. D. (2006). Indicators of socioeconomic position (part 2). Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 60: 95–101. [Read this article]

Gannon, B., Plasman, R., Rycx, F. & Tojerow, I. (2007). Inter-industry wage differentials and the gender wage gap: Evidence from European countries. The Economic and Social Review 38(1): 135–155.

Ganzeboom, H. & Treiman, D. (2003). Three internationally standardized measures for comparative research on occupational status. In J. H. P. Hoffmeyer-Zlotnik & C. Wolf (eds.), Advances in Cross-national Comparison. A European Working Book for Demographic and Socio-economic Variables (pp. 159–194). New York: Kluwer.

Gauthier, A. H. & Smeeding, T. M. (2003). Time use of older adults: Crossnational differences. Research on Aging 25: 247–274. [Read this article]

Goldthorpe, I. & Hope, K. (1974). Social Grading of Occupation: A New Approach and Scale. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gould, R. (2006). Choice or chance – late retirement in Finland. Social Policy and Society 5(4): 519–531. [Read this article]

Gouldner, A. W. (2001). The future of intellectuals and the rise of the new class. In D. B. Grusky (ed.), Social Stratification. Class, Race and Gender in Sociological Perspective (pp. 817–830). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Hakim, C. (2004). Key Issues in Women’s Work: Female Diversity and the Polarisation of Women’s Employment. London: Glasshouse Press.

Hardy, M. A. (1991). Employment after retirement: Who gets back in? Research on Aging 13(3): 267–288. [Read this article]

Hartlapp, M. & Kemmerling, A. (2008). When a solution becomes the problem: the causes of policy reversal on early exit from the labour force. Journal of European Social Policy 18(4): 366–379. [Read this article]

Hawley Mcwhirter, E. (1997). Perceived barriers to education and career: Ethnic and gender differences. Journal of Vocational behaviour 50: 124–140. [Read this article]

Hayward, M. D., Hardy, M. A. & Liu, M.-C. (1994). Work after retirement: The experiences of older men in the United States. Social Science Research 23(1): 82–107. [Read this article]

Hemerijck, A., Knapen, B. & Van Doorne, E. (eds.), (2009). Aftershocks. Economic Crisis and Institutional Choice. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Hershey, D. A., Henkens, K. & Van Dalen, H. P. (2007). Mapping the minds of retirement planners: A cross-cultural perspective. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 38(3): 361–382. [Read this article]

Hox, J. (2002). Multilevel analysis: Techniques and Applications. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Huijts, T., Monden, C. W. S. & Kraaykamp, G. (2010). Education, educational heterogamy, and self-assessed health in Europe: A multilevel study of spousal effects in 29 European countries. European Sociological Review 26(3): 261–276. [Read this article]

Hult, C. (2008). Gender, culture and non-financial employment commitment in Great Britain and Sweden. European Societies 10(1): 73–96. [Read this article]

International Labour Organization (2007). Economically Active Population in 2007, by Age Group. Available on (Accessed: September 16, 2009).

Katz, S. (1983). Assessing self-maintenance: Activities of daily living, mobility, and instrumental activities of daily living. Journal of the American Geriatric Society 31: 721–727.

Kim, J. (2009). Early retirement and the three types of welfare states. Research on Aging 31(5): 520–548. [Read this article]

Kohli, M. (2007). The institutionalisation of the life course: Looking back to look ahead. Research in Human Development 4: 253–271.

Komp, K., Van Tilburg, T. & Broese van Groenou, M. (2009). The influence of the welfare state on the number of young old persons. Ageing and Society 29(4): 609–624. [Read this article]

Korpi, W. & Palme, J. (1998). The paradox of redistribution and strategies of equality: Welfare state institutions, inequality, and poverty in the Western countries. American Sociological Review 63(5): 661–687. [Read this article]

Kubicek, B., Korunka, C., Hoonakker, P. & Raymo, J.M. (2010). Marital and family characteristics as predictors of early retirement in married men and women. Research on Ageing 32(4): 467–498. [Read this article]

Kunze, A. (2008). Gender wage gap studies: Consistency and decomposition. Empirical Economics 35(1): 63–76. [Read this article]

Lewis, J., Campbell, M. & Huerta, C. (2008a). Patterns of paid and unpaid work in Western Europe: Gender, commodification, preferences and the implications of policy. Journal of European Social Policy 18(1): 21–37. [Read this article]

Lewis, J., Knijn, T., Martin, C. & Ostner, I. (2008b). Patterns of development in work/family reconciliation policies for parents in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK in the 2000s. Social Politics 15(3): 261–286.

Lusardi, A. & Mitchell, O. S. (2007). Financial literacy and retirement preparedness: Evidence and implications for financial education. Business Economics 42(1): 35–44. [Read this article]

Magnusson, C. (2009). Gender, occupational prestige, and wages: A test of devaluation theory. European Sociological Review 25(1): 87–101. [Read this article]

McDaniel, S. A. (2003). Toward disentangling policy implications of economic and demographic changes in Canada’s aging population. Canadian Public Policy – Analyse de Politiques 29(4): 491–510.

Moen, P., Huang, Q., Plassmann, V. & Dentinger, E. (2006). Deciding the future. Do dual-earner couples plan together for retirement? American Behavioural Scientist 49(10): 1422–1443. [Read this article]

Myles, J. (2002). A new social contract for the elderly? In G. Esping-Andersen, D. Gallie, A. Hemerijk & J. Myles (eds.), Why We need a New Welfare State (pp. 130–172). Oxford: Oxford University Press. [Read this article]

Oehler, A. & Werner, C. (2008). Saving for retirement – a case for financial education in Germany and the UK? An economic perspective. Journal of Consumer Policy 31: 253–283. [Read this article]

O’Rand, A. & Henretta, J. (1999). Age and Inequality: Diverse Pathways through Later Life. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2006). Ageing and Employment Policies: Live Longer, Work Longer. Paris: OECD.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2008). Complementary and Private Pensions throughout the World. Paris: OECD.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2009). Pensions at a Glance 2009: Retirement-income Systems in OECD Countries. Paris: OECD.

Pierson, C. (2006). Beyond the Welfare State? The New Political Economy of Welfare. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Rose, D. & Harrison, E. (2007). The European socio-economic classification:A new social class schema for comparative European research. European Societies 9(3): 459–490. [Read this article]

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): 315–329. [Read this article]

Shaw, M., Bruna Galobardes, D. A., Lawlor, J. L., Wheeler, B. & Smith, G. D. (2007). The Handbook of Inequality and Socioeconomic Position. Concepts and Measures. Bristol: Policy Press.

Sorensen, A. (1994). Women, family and class. Annual Review of Sociology 20(1): 27–47. [Read this article]

Szinovacz, M. E. & Davey, A. (2005). Predictors of perceptions of involuntary retirement. The Gerontologist 45(1): 36–47.

Taylor, S. & Earnshaw, J. (1995). The provision of occupational pensions in the 1990s. An exploration of employer objectives. Employee Relations 17(2): 38–53. [Read this article]

Taylor-Gooby, P. (2008). The new welfare state settlement in Europe. European Society 10(1): 3–24. [Read this article]

Treiman, D. (1977). Occupational prestige in comparative perspective. New York: Academic Press.

Van Dalen, H.P., Henkens, K. & Schippers, J. (2009). Dealing with older workers in Europe: A comparative survey of employers’ attitudes and actions. Journal of European Social Policy 19(1): 47–60. [Read this article]

Van der Meer, M. (2006). Productivity among older people in The Netherlands: Variations by gender and the socio-spatial context in 2002–03. Ageing and Society 26(6): 901–923. [Read this article]

Van Solinge, H. & Henkens, K. (2005). Couples’ adjustment to retirement: A multi-actor panel study. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences 60B(1): S11–S20.

Van Solinge, H. & Henkens, K. (2007). Involuntary retirement: The role of restrictive circumstances, timing, and social embeddedness. Journal of Gerontology Social Sciences 62B(5): S295–S303.

Walker, A. (2006). Active ageing in employment: Its meaning and potential. Asia-Pacific Review 13(1): 78–93. [Read this article]