“Otherwise it would be nothing but cruises”: exploring the subjective benefits of working beyond 65

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Frances Reynolds
Alexandra Farrow
Alison Blank


The age at which statutory and private pensions are being paid is increasing in many countries and hence more people will need to work into their late 60s and beyond. At present, relatively little is known about the meanings of work for people who actively choose to work into their later life. This qualitative study examined the subjective benefits of continuing in a paid job or self-employment beyond the age of 65 in the United Kingdom. Thirty-one participants were interviewed, aged 65-91 years (median age 71), with 11 females and 20 males. Fourteen were working full-time and seventeen part-time. Interview transcripts were subject to thematic analysis. Although financial reward was acknowledged (more so by the female participants and the males who had young second families), there was more elaboration of the role of work in maintaining health and enabling continuing personal development. Work was framed as increasing personal control over later life, lifestyle choices and active participation in wider society, an antithesis to ’’cruising’’.


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