This research project is broadly concerned with labour force participation
at older ages; specifically, the relationship between participation
in paid work and psychological well-being and the possible determinants
of labour force participation at older ages. The recent and continuing
demographic shifts have resulted in an expected shortage of younger
workers coupled with an increasing proportion of older workers.
This shift and the economic environment have combined to highlight
the need to address the issues relating to older people and their
labour force participation. The cost to the UK of the falling
rate of economic activity in those aged 50 and above is vast and
the financial pressure on many older people to work due to inadequate
pension income and savings has also been recognised. In spite
of these individual and societal reasons for older individuals
to participate in paid employment, there remains a significant
decline in the labour force participation, of older men in particular.
Those individuals who continue to work at older ages and beyond
normal retirement ages have reported financial considerations
as their main motivation. However, there are often important non-financial
benefits from paid employment such as, liking the work itself,
friendship, avoiding boredom and gaining the respect of others.
Alternatively, it is possible that for some individuals, paid
employment at older ages may be associated with declines in well-being
and quality of life. Thus, the changing population structure,
and economic pressures ensure that it is essential to explore
the impact of work on the health and quality of life at older
Aims and Objectives
The relationships between paid work and well-being at older ages,
the role of paid work in older people's lives, and the possible
individual and situational factors determining the choice to continue
or give up paid work at older ages will be examined in this study.
This research focuses on people between 50 and 74 years old and
has two major aims:
To investigate determinants of participation
in paid employment in this age group, taking into account
factors such as individuals' physical health and financial
To examine the benefits or problems experienced
by older people in relation to participation in employment
and activity in later life. Again, factors such as physical
health and income levels will be taken into account.
Data is being collected from four groups of people between the
ages of 50 and 74:
People in paid work and below retirement
People in paid work and above the
People who are unemployed.
People who are economically inactive.
Data will be gathered by two separate means:
A comprehensive postal questionnaire
- The data collected by this method will include: demographic
and other individual details, e.g., age, ethnic origin,
marital status, caring responsibilities, physical and mental
health status, financial status and income, education, current
employment status and previous work history and work related
attitudes; situational details, such as opportunity for
interpersonal contact, variety, opportunity for control,
levels of leisure and voluntary activities
Psychological tests - After completion
of the questionnaire, participants are able to choose whether
to join the second phase of the research. This involves
administration of psychological tests of personality and
ability. A smaller number of participants will be involved
in this second phase of the study.
The general types of statistical relationships to
be investigated are:
direct relationships - between one
variable and another. For example, high employment commitment
is related to participation in paid work, and adequate income
without labour force participation is associated with non-participation
in paid work.
additive relationships - where some
combination of variables is related to a dependent variable.
For example, a low level of education, low employment commitment
and a perception of adequate income without labour force
participation are related to non-participation in paid employment.
where the nature of the direct relationship between
one variable and another is influenced by one or more of the
other variables. An example might be: high levels of the personality
factor extraversion are related to psychological well-being
but this is moderated by the opportunity for interpersonal
If it becomes imperative to encourage older individuals to participate
in the labour force, policies and practices must be informed by
research findings to ensure the needs of these individuals are
considered. Determining why some older people choose to continue
in paid employment and others remove themselves from the labour
market, will help to ensure the human resource practices aimed
at recruiting and retaining older workers are based on sound knowledge
and scientific evidence.
Thus, the research findings will provide an important source of
evidence to inform the development of new human resource strategies
and practices affecting older workers. Knowledge about the range
and nature of diversity, within older individuals of labour market
age, will help organisations construct reasoned proactive strategies
to tackle these issues.
The long-term result will be the creation of a more sophisticated
explanatory model on which to base the employment policies affecting
older workers. This model will specify the joint influences of
people and their situations in determining the well-being and
the presence in the labour market of older individuals.