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Trends and Inequalities in Extending Working Lives: Late-Life Employment Trajectories between 1990-2019 in Seven Countries

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Konrad Turek, Kene Henkens, Matthijs Kalmijn

(SocArXiv Papers)


Public policies encourage later retirement, but they often do not account for discrepancies in the capacity for extending working lives. This paper studies trends and inequalities in extending working lives over the last three decades in a gender-specific and comparative perspective of seven countries (Australia, Germany, Russia, South Korea, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States). We apply latent class growth analysis to identify employment trajectories between 60 and 69 from 1990 to 2019. In particular, we focus on people who continue work till later ages and compare them with those who exit early and remain inactive through their 60s. Latent class regression models serve to measure gender differences, educational inequalities, and time trends. We find five universal trajectories: Late Employment, Standard, Early and Late Exit, and Non-Employment. Non-Employment dominated the 1990s, but it significantly declined, giving space to Late Employment as one of the major employment pathways. Gender and educational inequalities are considerable and stable. Progress toward later employment is universal for contemporary societies, however, we find vital differences between countries, which warns against generalizations of one-country findings. This study also contributes methodologically by exploring the trajectory-oriented perspective on late careers.

Keywords: older workers, retirement, employment trajectories, growth model, comparative study
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