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 were 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: 

Two project conferences were hosted at the MZES in February and May 2014 at which country reports on institutional, firm-level and individual determinants of retirement decisions were presented. These reports will be summarized in an edited volume for which the proposal has been sent to a renowned publisher for review. In addition first analyses of retirement behaviour based on data from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) 2006 were conducted. Further analyses will provide country-specific results, adding a comparison with the newly available module on Work-Retirement-Transition 2012.

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