Determinants of Retirement Decisions in Europe and the United States: A Cross-National Comparison of Institutional, Firm-level and Individual Factors

Research question/goal: 

Up until the late-1990s, European labour markets have been characterised by early employment exits of senior workers well before official retirement ages; a trend increasingly considered unsustainable in times of demographic ageing. However, despite recent policy reforms to prolong working life – often summarised under the concept of 'active ageing' – older workers’ employment has increased only moderately and their labour market integration remains deficient. One obstacle for raising old-age employment has been a limited understanding of older workers’ employment vs. retirement decisions and of the different 'drivers' that influence them. Against this background, the project will analyse older workers’ retirement decisions and their complex set of determinants in 11 European countries, Japan and the U.S. In a first phase, nation-specific case-studies will reconstruct relevant 'framework conditions' of older workers retirement decisions, considering macro- (e.g. nation-state policies), and meso-level factors (e.g. workplace practices). Given these framework conditions, a second phase will focus on the empirical investigation of retirement decisions. For this phase, most recent data (SHARE/SHARELIFE/LFS) will be used to contrast possible changes in the timing and voluntariness of retirement decisions as well as its determinants before and after the political shift from 'early exit' to 'active ageing'.

Current stage: 

As part of the project’s first research phase, the project partners in 12 countries are currently working on country-specific reports that summarize the relevant institutional, firm-level and individual determinants of retirement decisions. These reports will be brought together at a joint project workshop, to take place in Mannheim from February 6-8, 2014. It is planned to publish these country reports in an edited volume with a renowned social science publisher. Based on the  hypotheses developed in the first project phase, inter- and intra-national differences in retirement behavior will be investigated empirically in the project’s second phase, using individual-level micro-data.

Fact sheet

2012 to 2016
Data Sources: 
SHARE/SHARELIFE, Health and Retirement Survey (USA), OECD, Eurostat and nation-specific institutional data
Geographic Space: 
Europe, Japan, USA