The role of life histories in retirement processes

Damman, M., 2016, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement (NETSPAR), p. 1-55, 55 p. (Netspar Industry Paper Series; no. Suvey paper 45).

Research output: Working paperAcademic

  • M. Damman
In most developed countries, populations are aging rapidly dueto the long-term decline of fertility and increasing longevity.Extending the working lives of older individuals is often perceivedas a key policy response to population aging, putting the issueof retirement high on the policy as well as the scientific agenda.At the same time, the life course of individual persons hasundergone major changes during the last several decades. The‘standard life course’ – where paid work was central in the livesof male adults, housework and care tasks central in the lives offemale adults, and couples stayed together until death – hasbecome less self-evident, with the same applying to lifetimeemployment at a single employer. What consequences do theseearlier life experiences in the work and family spheres have for theretirement-related decisions and experiences of older persons?To study this question, this survey paper reviews the scientificliterature on the relationship between earlier life experiencesand retirement of older adults. Subjects addressed include (a)important changes in the lives of individuals in the Netherlandsand other countries during the last several decades, (b) theoreticalstarting points in the research on life histories and retirement,and (c) empirical findings in the international retirementliterature. In general, the review of the literature suggests that lifehistories are important for an understanding of retirement-relateddecisions and experiences. Various earlier life events in both thework and family life spheres – such as career mobility and theexperience of a divorce – have been shown to “set the stage” forthe way older persons approach their later years. However, theempirical research on life histories and retirement is still ratherfragmented. This paper presents various suggestions for futureresearch to further improve our insights regarding the embedmentof retirement in the life course of individual persons.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherNetwork for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement (NETSPAR)
Number of pages55
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

NameNetspar Industry Paper Series
No.Suvey paper 45


  • retirement processes, life course perspective, life histories, older workers

ID: 64714736