Older Workers on the Move: Recareering in Later Life

TitleOlder Workers on the Move: Recareering in Later Life
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsJohnson, RW, Kawachi, J, Lewis, EK
InstitutionAARP's Public Policy Institute
KeywordsEmployment and Labor Force, Retirement Planning and Satisfaction

Recareering or career change is common at older ages. Workers who change careers typically move into jobs that pay less then their previous jobs and are less likely to offer pension and health benefits. On the positive side, new careers tend to offer more flexible employment arrangements, less stressful working conditions, and fewer managerial responsibilities. This report examines the extent and nature of career change by older workers and its consequences for later-life employment. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), the analysis tracks a sample of workers ages 51 to 55 and employed full time in 1992 and computes the percentage who changed employers, occupations, or industries by 2006, when they were ages 65 to 69. In addition, the report measures the impact of personal and job characteristics on the likelihood that older workers switch employers and occupations. The report also examines how job characteristics such as wages, health insurance coverage, and pension coverage change when older workers move into new careers. Tabulations compare the new and old jobs in terms of occupation, industry, selfemployment, flexible work options, part-time work, stressful work conditions, managerial responsibilities, overall job satisfaction, and prestige scores that rank occupations in terms of social standing. Special attention is paid to the circumstances surrounding later-life job separations that influence career change. Older job changers who say they are retiring from their previous employers are especially likely to downshift into less demanding, more flexible new careers that pay less than their former positions. Laid-off workers and those who simply say they quit their former jobs are more likely than retirees to take new jobs in the same occupation. For this study, recareering involves a move to a new employer in a new occupation. The terms occupational change and career change or recareering are used interchangeably.

Endnote Keywords

career change/career change/occupational Characteristics/labor Force Participation/retirement planning

Endnote ID


Citation Key5770