The Effects of Paid Work on Health in Later Life: Variation by Socioeconomic Status.

TitleThe Effects of Paid Work on Health in Later Life: Variation by Socioeconomic Status.
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsGumber, CMichael
Academic DepartmentSociology
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages101
Date Published07/2018
UniversityFlorida State University
CityTallahassee, FL
KeywordsCognitive health, Employment, Physical Health, Psychological Health, Retirement, SES

Studies examining the link between older adults’ labor force participation and health frequently report that later life employment is health enhancing. However, few studies consider how these benefits could vary by socioeconomic status (SES). In this dissertation I seek to address this oversight using data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). By exploring the relationship between older adults’ employment, SES, and health in three key areas (i.e., depressive symptoms, total recall, and physical impairment), I provide a more in-depth account of the health implications of later life employment. To accomplish this goal, I conduct three sets of analyses. In the first set of analyses I assess cross-sectional associations between employment status and health. My findings indicate that both part-time employment and full-time employment are significantly linked to fewer depressive symptoms, better recall, and fewer functional limitations. Contrary to my expectations, I find no evidence that full-time employment is especially beneficial compared with part-time employment. In the second set of analyses, I use longitudinal data to evaluate associations between employment stability and change and health. The longitudinal results are generally consistent with cross-sectional findings and indicate a positive relationship between older adults’ employment and health. In the third set of analyses, I examine whether the relationship between older adults’ labor force involvement and health varies by SES using cross-sectional and longitudinal data. A review of the interaction terms from the cross-sectional analyses suggests that SES does not significantly condition such a relationship. However, longitudinal findings do offer some evidence that higher educational attainment and wealth may weaken the association between employment change and cognitive and physical health.

Citation Key10248