An International Comparison of Retirement and Late-Career Patterns in Western Industrialized Countries
Chapter 6: Conclusions
Population aging is an issue that virtually any Western industrial society nowadays is faced with. While initially the public and scientific discourse largely focused on changes in the demographic structure of modern societies and their consequences for the affordability of established pension systems, attention recently has shifted to labor market aspects and the need to integrate older workers into employment. Politicians and experts from OECD countries agreed at the High-Level Forum on Ageing and Employment Policies in 2005 that, ‘faced with population ageing, longer work lives must be encouraged’ (see OECD 2005h). Indeed, reversing the early retirement trend that had been dominant for the last few decades ranks high on the current political agenda and is supported by both national and supranational policy makers and pressure groups alike (European Commission 2004a; Taylor 2006; OECD 2006). However, successful political intervention requires a thorough knowledge both of the development and of the causes of the currently still dominant early retirement trend in modern societies. Against this background, the aim of this work was to contribute to the state of research by providing a comprehensive explanation of the emergence of early retirement, its differential development across countries and its unequal spread among different groups of older workers. I started by giving a comprehensive overview of existing theories that had previously investigated the trend towards early retirement. I then developed a theoretical framework for the analysis and explanation of early retirement that, on the one hand, embedded the retirement transitions of older employees in...