Research Group

Labor Demography

Research Area

Working Life Trajectories in Perspective: Patterns and Determinants

Keywords: Ageing, Mortality and Longevity; Economics, Employment, Retirement; Life Course; Statistics and Mathematics

Increasing the length of working life is a major policy goal in aging populations. But despite its importance, there is surprisingly little research about which factors shape the length of working life, how it has developed in recent years, and how it differs by country.

This research area aims to fill this gap. Working life expectancy – understood as lifetime spent working – is one of our key indicators, and we examine its trends and determinants across high-income countries. We take a life-course perspective, looking at how the expansion of education has influenced entry into the labor force and how changing fertility patterns, increasing opportunities to take parental leave, fluctuating economic uncertainty, and other sources of voluntary and involuntary inactivity during the prime working ages influence labor-force trajectories and working life expectancy.

Our analyses are based on cross-sectional and longitudinal survey datasets and register-based data that together cover a large number of countries, birth cohorts, and time periods. We look at working life expectancy from both period and cohort perspectives. Cohort analyses are likely affected by missing data problems, either because the cohorts are very old and information on their early working lives is missing, or because the cohorts are too young to have completed their working lives. We address this problem by implementing a novel method that allows us to complete a cohort’s working histories using incomplete data. Another methodological innovation is our development and application of Markov Chain methods, which allow for in-depth analyses of social trajectories.

Projects of this Research Area: