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Older workers’ work limitations, vitality and retirement preferences

The differential effects of chronic health conditions
PhD ceremony:Ms A.C. (Anushiya) Vanajan
When:December 14, 2022
Supervisors:prof. dr. C.J.I.M. (Kène) Henkens, prof. dr. U. (Ute) Bultmann
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Medical Sciences / UMCG
Older workers’ work limitations, vitality and retirement

In the last decades, governments across the western world are increasing retirement ages and suspending early work exit routes to sustain their labour force. Resultantly, older workers are working longer than they previously expected. Because the prevalence of chronic health conditions increases with age, older workers may also be combatting many health- and work-related challenges posed by chronic health conditions. 

In this dissertation, I investigate the heterogeneities in how chronic health conditions affect older workers’ vitality, health-related work limitations and subjective life expectancy, and how these effects drive older workers’ preferences to retire early. Additionally, I study the role of the organization in sustainably supporting older workers with chronic health conditions. The findings demonstrate that chronic health conditions differ widely in how they affect older workers’ health, work and retirement preferences. These effects differ by the type of chronic health condition and whether the chronic health condition was newly diagnosed. The findings also suggest that a psychologically safe organizational climate and flexible working times could promote the healthy ageing of older workers with chronic health conditions at work. Moreover, the results shows that retirement improves the vitality of older workers, more so for manual workers than non-manual workers. Taken together, experiencing chronic health conditions in the years before retirement is detrimental to older workers health, work and functioning. Because future cohorts of older workers will work longer, it is important to develop effective strategies to protect and promote the health and work ability of older workers with chronic health conditions.