Bridge Employment and Health

TitleBridge Employment and Health
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsCho, J
Academic DepartmentEpidemiological Science
UniversityUniversity of Michigan
CityAnn Arbor, Michigan
Thesis TypeDissertation
KeywordsBridge employment, Health Conditions and Status, Older Adults

Due to the increasing longevity, advancing yet skyrocketing health care costs, and the lack of funds for elderly welfare, post-retirement health among older adults has become a crucial issue both at the individual and societal level. Concurrently, with widespread implementation of pro-work policies and the notion of retirement as a gradual process rather than one-time transition, bridge employment rate in the US has increased continually for last few decades. However, little is known regarding how the two major societal trends are related. Determinants of bridge employment are not fully understood, and how bridge employment affects post-retirement health is largely unknown. In addition, there is little systematic information on gender difference in the precursors and consequences of bridge employment despite distinct occupational experiences and biological differences in men and women. This dissertation focuses on the complex relationship between bridge employment and post-retirement health. Using data from Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative longitudinal survey of individuals over age 50, major determinants of bridge employment among men and women were identified. Then, the effects of bridge employment on physical and mental health were investigated. Statistical analyses accounted for time-dependent confounders and potential bidirectional association in the relationship between bridge employment and health outcomes. Via separate analyses for men and women, this study shows that men’s bridge employment is often driven especially by his early-life socioeconomic status, rather than his high occupational ability or self-esteem in the work place, while women’s bridge employment is significantly influenced by her marital status, which may partly be due to women’s nonlinear career trajectories. Bridge employment was associated with fewer depressive symptoms, while it was found to have deteriorative effects on physical functioning. Both associations did not differ by potential modifiers such as gender, income, education, and pre-retirement occupation. By investigating the antecedents of bridge employment and examining its physical and mental health effects, this dissertation provides an insight on the mechanism of the non-traditional retirement process. Our findings may be useful for policy implications to improve well-being of a number of prospective retirees who may engage in bridge employment in the next few decades. Advisors/Committee Members: Mendes de Leon, Carlos (committee member), Elliott, Michael R (committee member), Liang, Jersey (committee member), Needham, Belinda L (committee member), Schoeni, Bob (committee member).

Citation Key8993