Later-life employment trajectories and health

TitleLater-life employment trajectories and health
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsMcDonough, P, Worts, D, Corna, LM, McMunn, A, Sacker, A
JournalAdvances in Life Course Research
ISSN Number10402608
KeywordsEmployment and Labor Force, Health Conditions and Status, Retirement Planning and Satisfaction

Background: Despite the recent policy push to keep older adults in the labour force, we know almost nothing about the potential health consequences of working longer. Drawing on a life course approach that considers stability and change in employment patterns, this study examines the relationship between long-term labour market involvement in later life and self-rated health.

Methods: Our data are from the Health and Retirement Study (1992-2012) for the cohort born 1931-1941 (N = 6522). We used optimal matching analysis to map employment trajectories from ages 52-69, and then logistic regression to examine associations between these trajectories and self-rated health in the early 70s, net of socio-demographics, household resources and prior health.

Findings: Women prevail in groups characterized by a weak(er) attachment to the labour market and men, in groups signifying a strong(er) attachment. Men who downshifted from full-time to part-time work around age 65 were the least likely to report poor health in their early 70s.Women had the best health if they remained employed, either full-time or part-time. However, unlike men, they appeared to benefit most in health terms when part-time hours were part of a longer-term pattern.

Conclusion: While our study findings show that continuing to work in later life may be positively associated with health, they also suggest the need for flexible employment policies that foster opportunities to work part-time.

Short TitleAdvances in Life Course Research
Citation Key9441