Partial Retirement and Pension Policy in Industrialized Countries

By Latulippe, Denis; Turner, John | International Labour Review, January 1, 2000 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Partial Retirement and Pension Policy in Industrialized Countries


Latulippe, Denis, Turner, John, International Labour Review


Most "regular employees" in industrialized countries work full time until retirement, when they cease working completely. This mode of exit from the labour force results in an abrupt change in workers' time allocation and lifestyle when they move from full-time work to full-time leisure.

Patterns of employment among older workers are gradually changing, however, as a significant minority of people now work part-time before retirement - and even after they receive full pensions. A minority of regular employees move to self-employment, where hours are flexible, or take other jobs after leaving their career job. Some move from full-time to part-time jobs with their career employer, but few employees have this option. Taking a transition job usually requires finding a new employer.1 These transition jobs, commonly called "bridge jobs", often permit workers to reduce their hours by working part-time for a period before taking full retirement. In the United States, about half of these bridge jobs are part-time jobs (Quinn, 1997).

The term "partial retirement" refers to a transition period of part-time work between an employee's career job and retirement which includes payment of either a partial or a full pension. Partial retirement is distinct from the related concept of flexible retirement age, where workers are given a range of ages over which they can retire but where the transition from work to retirement remains abrupt. Another transition pattern is intermittent full-time work at older ages. In this case, an older worker may leave a career job, be out of the labour force for a period, and then return for a period to a full-time job. Although this pattern does not involve part-time work, some government programmes, such as Germany's and Sweden's, consider it to be partial retirement. A further possibility is a period of part-time work preceding retirement without receipt of a pension, though most workers need at least a partial pension to be able to afford a period of part-time work. In any case, this option is not considered here because the focus of this article is on partial retirement as an aspect of pension policy.

Following a brief survey of trends and patterns of employment among older workers, the article examines the advantages, disadvantages and costs of partial retirement. The discussion then turns to policies that affect partial retirement, particularly through its interaction with social security and training. The salient features of partial retirement policies in selected industrialized countries are also reviewed. Finally, a concluding section outlines some policy considerations and suggestions that emerge from the analysis and may inform national policy-making aimed at encouraging or facilitating partial retirement.

Work for older workers

The rate of employment of older workers has decreased significantly over the past few decades. In the advanced industrialized countries, approximately 50 per cent of the male population aged 60 to 64 was economically active in 1990, compared with 82 per cent in 1950. As shown in table 1, the average age of effective retirement - based on the complete cessation of economic activity - declined from over 66 in 1950 to under 62 in 1990 (Latulippe, 1996).

This reduction in the rate of economic activity of older workers has been coupled with the widespread institution of pension plans and an increase in the incidence of part-time work among older workers, both men and women, in most industrialized countries (OECD, 1995b). This partly reflects the increase in the ratio of part-time to total employment at all ages. But in most countries, while the proportion of part-time workers among employed men aged 55-59 is no higher than it is among younger male workers (under 10 per cent), the proportion of 60-64 year-old male workers in part-time employment is higher than the average proportion for all male workers. This also holds true for women, though in most countries part-time work is much more common among women than it is among men.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Partial Retirement and Pension Policy in Industrialized Countries
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?