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Older age and ill-health: links to work and worklessness


  • Fiona Carmichael

    () (Department of Management, Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham)

  • Claire Hulme

    (Academic Unit of Health Economics, Leeds Institute of Health Sciences, University of Leeds)

  • Lorna Porcellato

    (Centre for Public Health, Liverpool John Moores University)


Purpose: To provide insights on the relationship between health and employment in older age. Design/methodology: Qualitative methods are used with some additional quantitative analysis to explore generalisations. The qualitative analysis is based on interviews with 56 men and women between the ages of 50 and 68. This part of the study uses the respondents’ own words to explain how physical and mental ill-health has impacted on labour market participation and vice versa. The quantitative analysis uses data from the British Household Panel Study and multivariate techniques. Findings: The research highlights the complexity, individuality and two-way causality underlying the relationships between health, work and worklessness in older age. The analysis also suggests that type of job and workplace conditions matter. The negative impact of the onset of ill-health on employment participation only appears to be accentuated by age for women. Research limitations: The two data sets are not directly comparable. Social implications: Planned rises in the age at which state pensions are payable need to be accompanied by policies that improve the health of older people and changes in workplace practices that facilitate longer working lives. Originality: A specific focus on the relationship between ill-health and employment in older age. The use of qualitative methods to draw out the main issues and the use of quantitative analysis to draw additional insights and make some comparisons with younger cohorts.

Suggested Citation

  • Fiona Carmichael & Claire Hulme & Lorna Porcellato, 2012. "Older age and ill-health: links to work and worklessness," Working Papers 1204, Academic Unit of Health Economics, Leeds Institute of Health Sciences, University of Leeds.
  • Handle: RePEc:lee:wpaper:1204

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    References listed on IDEAS

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