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Ageing workers in an ageing society: Labour force transitions and work in late life

The project "Ageing workers in an ageing society: Labour force transitions and work in late life" aims to unravel the determinants of the behaviour of older workers and employers in dealing with the new reality of extended working life. The project is financed through an NWO Vici grant awarded to prof.dr. C.J.I.M. Henkens.

The fundamental shift from an early exit culture to a culture in which extended labor force participation by older adults is the norm, raises many questions about how current and future generations of older adults are managing and will manage their late careers. Older workers who are expected to work much longer than they had envisioned are challenged to find ways to remain productive, while employers are equally challenged to offer opportunities to attain that goal.

This project studies the strategies that older men and women (aged 60+) as well as employers use to cope with the new prospect of an extended working life. Special attention will be paid to patterns of paid work and unpaid roles (e.g., volunteering, caregiving) during late careers, and to the role of the country context, organizational context, household context, and personal agency/planning for explaining these productive activity patterns.

Data will be collected among workers as well as employers in the Netherlands. Moreover, existing international survey data (e.g., GGP, SHARE, EU-Silc) will be used to examine between-country differences.

Older workers: Pension panel survey
For the case of the Netherlands, new multi-actor panel data will be collected in collaboration with several large Dutch pension funds. In 2015 the first wave of data collection has taken place. More than 6,500 older workers in the age group 60-64 years have participated. Also their partners – if applicable – are included in the study. The panel survey will follow the older workers and their partners over time (aiming at a minimum of three waves of data) to achieve a comprehensive understanding of late-career productive activity patterns and their determinants.

Employers: ASPA follow-up
A large-scale survey of employers will be carried out among organizations in the Netherlands. This survey will be a follow-up of the ASPA survey carried out in 2009. The survey will be conducted on a net sample of 1,000 employers. The questionnaire will contain similar questions on recruitment and retention measures, personnel policies, and features of the organization as those posed in 2009.


Damman, M. & Henkens, K. (2017),
Constrained agency in later working lives: Introduction to the special issue. Work, Aging and Retirement 3 (3): 225-230. [URL]
Henkens, K., Dalen, H.P. van, Ekerdt, D.J., Hershey, D.A., Hyde, M., Radl, J., Solinge, H. van, Wang, M. & Zacher, H. (2017),
What we need to know about retirement: Pressing issues for the coming decade. The Gerontologist. [URL]
Hyde, M. & Dingemans, E. (2017),
Hidden in plain sight? Does stricter employment protection legislation lead to an increased risk of hidden unemployment in later life? Work, Aging and Retirement 3 (3): 231-242. [URL]
Solinge, H. van & Henkens, K. (2017),
Older workers’ emotional reactions to rising retirement age: The case of the Netherlands. Work, Aging and Retirement 3 (3): 273-283. [URL]
Dingemans, E., Henkens, K. & Solinge, H. van (2016),
Working beyond retirement in Europe; An investigation of individual and societal determinants using SHARE. Netspar Discussion Paper DP 06/2016-022. Tilburg: Netspar. [URL]
Oude Mulders, J., Henkens, K., Liu, Y., Schippers, J. & Wang, M. (2016),
Managers’ interview invitation decisions about older job applicants: Human capital, economic conditions and job demands. Ageing & Society. [URL]

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