Does Mental Health Affect Transitions out of the Labor Force in Older Workers?

TitleDoes Mental Health Affect Transitions out of the Labor Force in Older Workers?
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsWray, LA
InstitutionAmerican Sociological Association
KeywordsDemographics, Employment and Labor Force, Health Conditions and Status, Healthcare, Retirement Planning and Satisfaction

This paper extends earlier studies on health and work by examining how mental health affects transitions out of paid work in the years prior to the traditional Social Security retirement ages. Specifically, I investigate how mental health is linked to transitions to early retirement or other unemployed state in 1996 for middle-age adults who were currently working in 1992 and, in particular, whether deficits in mental health affect those transitions. To answer those questions, I use data from the first three waves of the Health and Retirement Study, a panel study of a nationally representative sample of Americans age 51-61 in 1992. Results of logistic regression analyses indicated that mental health had a strong and significant influence on the move from paid work to unemployment in three ways, net of other documented health, job, and socioeconomic correlates of work status: (1) Above-average self-assessed mental health predicted the transition from current worker to retiree. (2) Above -average mental health played a protective role in keeping workers in the work force rather than being laid off, on sick leave, or otherwise unemployed. (3) Increased CES-D depressive symptoms between 1992 and 1994 predicted exits from paid employment and into other unemployment by 1996. The results also indicate that mental health was an even more important predictor of transitions out of paid work among middle-age workers than were physical health and functioning.

Endnote Keywords

Labor Force Participation/Mental Health/Life Stage Transitions/Retirement/Unemployment/Middle Aged Adults/Workers/role exit/sociology of health and medicine/social psychiatry (mental health)

Endnote ID


Citation Key5404