Retirement transitions in the 21st century: A scoping review of the changing nature of retirement in Europe

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Aske Lassen
Karsten Vrangbæk


There are important transformations taking place regarding the ways to transition from work-life to retirement. The timing and pathways are changing and many individuals undergo long periods of being in-between working and retirement life. Yet, our cultural understandings of retirement tend to maintain a clear distinction between pre- and post-retirement life. While the changes in retirement trajectories is not new, the trend seems to have accelerated in recent decades. We focus on what is known from the literature about the tendencies in alternative retirement trajectories of healthy seniors in Europe since 2000.

We review some conceptual and political transitions in the societal understandings of retirement, followed by a scoping review in three sections: 1) Employment after retirement, 2) Self-employment, and 3) Unretirement. We conclude that while 21st century retirement trajectories are complex and understudied, there are some clear tendencies regarding who engages in such practices and why.


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