Who Works Later in Life? A Cross-National Analysis of Employment Rates and Work Hours among Older Adults

Janet C. Gornick, Baruch College, City University of New York (CUNY)
Traci Schlesinger, Princeton University
Gary Burtless, The Brookings Institution
Timothy Smeeding, Syracuse University

Population aging and pressure on social budgets has sparked intense interest in increased work at older ages in both the U.S. and Europe. Using data from the Luxembourg Income Study (c.2000), we investigate employment rates and work hours among adults aged 55 to 74 in the U.S., in comparison to their counterparts in ten European countries. The paper includes two lines of analysis, both of considerable interest to demographers. First, we ask: which adults remain in employment later in life? We assess whether adults who work in their later years are more economically advantaged than their prime-age counterparts, or more disadvantaged, or whether the pattern is one of bifurcation. Second, we analyze the usual work hours of those who remain employed after age 55. Extending our employment analysis, we ask: Which older workers work long(er) hours? Are longer hours among older workers associated with economic advantage or disadvantage? Finally, is there evidence of phased retirement, and where?

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Presented in Session 36: Trends in the Timing and Pattern of Retirement in Developed Countries