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Between privilege and burden: Work past retirement age in Germany and the UK

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  • Scherger, Simone
  • Hagemann, Steffen
  • Hokema, Anna
  • Lux, Thomas

Abstract

The paper investigates paid work beyond retirement age in Germany and the UK. This comprises a combination of work, payments from a pension (or several pensions) and old age which is counter to the assumed finality of retirement and the corresponding standardised passage from end of work into retirement and receipt of a pension. Paid work beyond retirement has not only become more frequent in the last decade, but is also part of heated policy debates on pension reform. The paper first gives a comprehensive literature review, presenting empirical results, conceptual differentiations and theoretical approaches to post-retirement work from previous studies. A heuristic model summarises the most important individual and structural influences on post-retirement work. Thereafter, the most important features of the pension systems and labour markets in Germany and in the UK are outlined. In terms of institutional settings, the countries represent opposing cases whose comparison helps to better understand the institutional factors shaping employment beyond retirement age. In the second half of the paper, data from the German Ageing Survey (DEAS) and the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) serve to empirically describe paid work beyond retirement age. In addition to the demographic and regional distribution of postretirement work, particular attention is paid to the socio-economic status of people working past retirement, in comparison to those who do not work. Other important areas studied are non-paid activities of post-retirement workers, their health and living arrangements as well as their life satisfaction and subjective reasons for employment. On the one hand, the results of the empirical description confirm the privileged situation of many post-retirement workers who, for example, tend to be more highly educated and have better health than their non-working counterparts. On the other hand, some post-retirement workers work for financial reasons and in the low-paid service sector. There are some indications that the latter group, who experience post-retirement work more often as a burden, or at least in a more ambivalent way, is larger in the UK than in Germany, mainly for institutional and structural reasons.

Suggested Citation

  • Scherger, Simone & Hagemann, Steffen & Hokema, Anna & Lux, Thomas, 2012. "Between privilege and burden: Work past retirement age in Germany and the UK," Working papers of the ZeS 04/2012, University of Bremen, Centre for Social Policy Research (ZeS).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:zeswps:042012
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jan Goebel & Markus M. Grabka, 2011. "Entwicklung der Altersarmut in Deutschland," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 80(2), pages 101-118.
    2. James Sefton & Justin vandeVen & Martin Weale, 2008. "Means Testing Retirement Benefits: fostering equity or discouraging savings?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(528), pages 556-590, April.
    3. Johannes Geyer & Viktor Steiner, 2010. "Künftige Altersrenten in Deutschland: relative Stabilität im Westen, starker Rückgang im Osten," DIW Wochenbericht, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 77(11), pages 2-11.
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    Cited by:

    1. David Wright, 2015. "How Have Employment Transitions for Older Workers in Germany and the UK Changed?," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 782, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).

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