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Health inequalities and the prolongation of working life

At a glance


Current demographic and economic developments in Western societies fuel a trend of extending working life. The public and academic debates about postponing retirement age give little attention to heterogeneity in aging. This project aims at examining the effects of the transition from employment to retirement on health outcomes for different social groups. In particular, we explore how the extension of working life and later life health conditions influence each other. One the one hand, we examine how retirement transition patterns, such as gradual or direct retirement transitions, affect individuals’ health outcomes. On the other hand, we investigate how adverse health conditions affect labor market integration during late careers and transitions to retirement.

To this end, we adopt an interdisciplinary life course perspective that comprises both individual and institutional level factors. We draw from secondary data from Switzerland, as well as Sweden and the United States. We apply methods that allow for causal inference (such as difference-in-difference analysis), longitudinal methods (such as fixed-effects or sequence analysis) as well as methods appropriate to analyze particularly large or small datasets (such as machine learning or Bayesian statistics).

Our project contributes to unveiling the mechanisms that underpin health inequalities in the prolongation of working life. We aim at identifying which mid-life associated factors may best explain health differentials in the transition to retirement. These factors may offer effective targets for early intervention, improving health outcomes in old age. As ever more working lives end in late retirement, it is becoming increasingly important for researchers and policy makers to understand how this affects health in late life.

The project consists of 4 subprojects. For information about the current subprojects, please see section "Open Data and Downloads".

Further information


Open Data and Downloads