Journal Article

Midlife work and women's long-term health and mortality

Caputo, J., Pavalko, E. K., Hardy, M. A.
Demography, 57:1, 373–402 (2020)
Open Access


Although paid work is a well-established predictor of health, several gaps in our knowledge about the relationship between adult work patterns and later health and mortality remain, including whether these benefits persist over long periods and whether they are dependent on subjective experiences with work. We draw on more than three decades of data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Mature Women to assess how labor force participation over a period of 20 years during midlife is related to mental and physical health and mortality over the following 16–25 years. We find that consistent work earlier in life continues to predict improved health and longevity over many years as women enter late life, and this relationship does not differ between women with positive and those with negative subjective work experiences. These findings add to knowledge about how key adult social experiences are related to health as individuals enter later life.

The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.