The influence of occupational biographies on psychosocial environments, intended retirement age, and employment status

Funded by the German Science Foundation (DFG, PE833/12-1)

In cooperation with Prof. Dr. Hans Bosma, Maastricht University, The Netherlands

The demographic transformation has reached great strata of German employees: they will retire in the next few years and the workforce will consequently shrink. Accordingly, it will be of increasing importance in the future to keep older employees actively involved in the labour market as long as possible. The motivation to work until one reaches the legal retirement age will play a decisive role in this scenario. Beside health, financial aspects and aspects related to partnership the psychosocial work environment has a major influence on the decision on the timing of retirement. Some of these aspects have a long-term impact on the intended retirement age. This impact starts early during the occupational biography and raises questions which cannot be adequately answered by current research in this field:

  1. Can we identify typical patterns of occupational biographies among men and women which influence the intended retirement age?
  2. Do specific patterns of occupational biographies lead to more stressful psychosocial work environments at later ages?
  3. Do more stressful psychosocial work environments enhance the association between occupational biographies and intended early retirement (moderation) or do such environments mediate the association between occupational biographies and intended retirement age? Do we observe similar associations with regard to labor market exit? What is the role of poor health regarding the intended retirement age?

The ‚living at work‘ (lidA) study offers the opportunity to answer these questions with the help of a nationwide longitudinal investigation among initially more than 6000 employees. lidA combines historical data from the statutory social insurance with personal interview data from two waves (2011 and 2014) on the individual level. The social insurance data allow the computation of occupational biographies while the survey data comprise extensive information on health, work and non-work factors and on the intended retirement age. Own preliminary work with lidA data shows that the association between indicators of socioeconomic status and health is mediated by psychosocial factors (e.g. stressful work environments, social isolation). Aim of this study is to investigate whether or not indicators of socioeconomic status and of occupational biography have an impact beyond health, i.e. on the intended early retirement or on labour market exit. The expected findings are of high relevance regarding employment and health policies.

Project leader: Prof. Dr. Richard Peter

Duration: 2018-2021