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Determinants Of Involuntary Employment In Europe


  • Lieze Sohiers


  • Luc Van Ootegem


  • Elsy Verhofstadt



The worker’s perception of a forced decision to work (i.e. involuntary employment) has a negative effect on the overall well-being of the older worker (aged 50 and above). This paper first investigates the job situation, the financial and health situation and the relationship status of the involuntary workers. The micro data of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) allows for panel estimations. We control for unobserved differences in personality traits between voluntary and involuntary workers. We find that the job situation of the worker and the retirement of the partner are important drivers of involuntary employment. Specifically, involuntary workers are more frequently employed in jobs that are physically demanding or that have more stress related tasks. Involuntary workers also often feel underappreciated for their work by the management or colleagues. Second, we focus on cross-country differences. The fraction of involuntary workers in the labor population aged 50 and more ranges from 29 percent in Switzerland to 62 percent in Spain. We find that in the countries with the lowest rates of involuntary employment, the involuntary workers have better working conditions and are more easily able to make ends meet. Furthermore, the country dummies in our estimations indicate that the probability of being involuntarily employed is partly explained by time-invariant factors that differ across countries, for example public policies, e.g. pension systems. We investigate cross-country differences in four aspects of the pension system. The countries with the lowest rates of involuntary employment are those with the highest rates of partial and joint retirement.

Suggested Citation

  • Lieze Sohiers & Luc Van Ootegem & Elsy Verhofstadt, 2019. "Determinants Of Involuntary Employment In Europe," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 19/956, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
  • Handle: RePEc:rug:rugwps:19/956

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 2004. "Social security, pensions and retirement behaviour within the family," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(6), pages 723-737.
    2. Gary Chamberlain, 1980. "Analysis of Covariance with Qualitative Data," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(1), pages 225-238.
    3. Mundlak, Yair, 1978. "On the Pooling of Time Series and Cross Section Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 69-85, January.
    4. Nielsen, Helena Skyt, 1998. "Discrimination and detailed decomposition in a logit model," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 115-120, October.
    5. Philip Taylor & Peter Urwin, 2001. "Age and Participation in Vocational Education and Training," Work, Employment & Society, British Sociological Association, vol. 15(4), pages 763-779, December.
    6. Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, 2015. "Control Function Methods in Applied Econometrics," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(2), pages 420-445.
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    More about this item


    older workers; involuntary employment longer working careers; aging;

    JEL classification:

    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies
    • J28 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy

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