Employment, late-life work, retirement, and well-being in Europe and the United States

Milena Nikolova*, Carol Graham

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)
35 Downloads (Pure)


Flexible work arrangements and retirement options provide one solution for the challenges of unemployment and underemployment, aging populations, and unsustainable public pension systems in welfare states around the world. We examine the relationships between well-being and job satisfaction on the one hand and employment status and retirement, on the other, using Gallup World Poll data for several European countries and the United States. We find that voluntary part-time workers are happier, experience less stress and anger, and have higher job satisfaction than other employees. Using statistical matching, we show that late-life workers under voluntary part-time or full-time arrangements have higher well-being than retirees. There is no well-being premium for involuntary late-life work and self-employment compared to retirement, however. Our findings inform ongoing debates about the optimal retirement age and the fiscal burdens of public pension systems. JEL codes: J14; J21; J26; J28; I31; Z18

Original languageEnglish
Article number5
JournalIZA Journal of European Labor Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1-Dec-2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Employment
  • Job satisfaction
  • Propensity score matching
  • Retirement
  • Subjective well-being
  • Voluntary part-time work

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