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How Does Occupational Status Impact Bridge Job Prevalence?

Author

Listed:
  • Kevin E. Cahill

    () (Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College)

  • Michael D. Giandrea

    () (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

  • Joseph F. Quinn

    () (Boston College)

Abstract

Is bridge job prevalence reduced significantly if a change in occupation is required in addition to the hours and tenure requirements that typically define bridge job employment? Prior research has shown that the majority of older Americans with career employment do not exit the labor force directly from their careers. Rather, most career individuals take on a “bridge job” later in life, that is, a job that follows full-time career (FTC) employment and precedes complete labor force withdrawal (i.e., retirement). One criticism of this finding is that bridge job prevalence may be overstated because the definition of a bridge job in the existing literature does not require a change in occupation. This paper investigates the extent to which bridge jobs involve a change in occupation or a switch to part-time status, both of which may signal retirement transitions as opposed to continued career employment, albeit with a different employer. We use the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a nationally-representative longitudinal dataset of older Americans that began in 1992 as the basis for our analysis. We find that, among HRS respondents who were on a FTC job at the time of the first interview and who changed jobs in subsequent waves, 48 percent of the men and 40 percent of the women also changed occupations, using 2-digit occupation codes. Further, when hours worked are also considered, we find that more than three quarters of FTC respondents who changed jobs later in life had either a change in occupation or a switch from full-time to part-time status. Finally, an examination of those career workers who changed jobs but not occupations and who remained working full time reveals that, as a whole, they resemble those who took bridge jobs rather than those who remained on their FTC job. We conclude that the vast majority of career workers who changed jobs later in life did in fact do so as part of a retirement transition.

Suggested Citation

  • Kevin E. Cahill & Michael D. Giandrea & Joseph F. Quinn, 2011. "How Does Occupational Status Impact Bridge Job Prevalence?," Working Papers 447, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Handle: RePEc:bls:wpaper:ec110050
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Michael D. Giandrea & Kevin E. Cahill & Joseph F. Quinn, 2010. "The Role of Re-entry in the Retirement Process," Working Papers 439, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
    2. Tunga Kantarci & Arthur Soest, 2008. "Gradual Retirement: Preferences and Limitations," De Economist, Springer, vol. 156(2), pages 113-144, June.
    3. F. Thomas Juster & Richard Suzman, 1995. " An Overview of the Health and Retirement Study," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30, pages s7-s56.
    4. Joseph F. Quinn, 2010. "Work and Retirement: How and When Older Americans Leave the Labor Force," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 743, Boston College Department of Economics.
    5. Ruhm, Christopher J, 1990. "Bridge Jobs and Partial Retirement," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(4), pages 482-501, October.
    6. Michael D. Giandrea & Kevin E. Cahill & Joseph F. Quinn, 2007. "Bridge Jobs: A Comparison across Cohorts," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 670, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 22 Dec 2008.
    7. Joseph F. Quinn & Richard V. Burkhauser & Daniel A. Myers, 1990. "Passing the Torch: The Influence of Economic Incentives on Work and Retirement," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number pt.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kevin E. Cahill & Michael D. Giandrea & Joseph F. Quinn, 2012. "The Relationship between Work Decisions and Location Later in Life," Working Papers 458, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
    2. Joseph F. Quinn & Kevin E. Cahill, 2015. "The New World of Retirement Income Security in America," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 887, Boston College Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Economics of Aging; Partial Retirement; Occupation Change; Gradual Retirement;

    JEL classification:

    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • J32 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Nonwage Labor Costs and Benefits; Retirement Plans; Private Pensions
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions

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