MPIDR Working Paper

The extension of late working life in Germany: trends, inequalities, and the East-West divide

Dudel, C., Loichinger, E., Klüsener, S., Sulak, H., Myrskylä, M.
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2021-018, 33 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (October 2021)
Open Access


The extension of late working life has been proposed as a potential remedy for the challenges of aging societies. For Germany, surprisingly little is known about trends and social inequalities in the length of late working life. Here, we use data from the German Microcensus to estimate working life expectancy from age 55 onwards for the 1941-1955 birth cohorts. We adjust our calculations of working life expectancy for working hours, and present results for western and eastern Germany by gender, education, and occupation. While working life expectancy has increased across cohorts, we find strong regional and socioeconomic disparities. Decomposition analyses show that among males, socioeconomic differences are predominantly driven by variation in employment rates; whereas among women, variation in working hours is also highly relevant. Older eastern German women have longer working lives than older western German women, which is likely attributable to the GDR legacy of high female employment.

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.