Research Group

Labor Demography

At a Glance Projects Publications Team

Research Area

Working-Life Trajectories in Perspective: Patterns and Determinants

Increasing the length of working life is a major policy goal in aging populations. But despite its importance, surprisingly little research has been done 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 allows for in-depth analyses of social trajectories.

Research Keywords:

Aging, Mortality and Longevity, Economics, Employment, Retirement, Life Course, Statistics and Mathematics

Projects of this Research Area

The Financial Crisis and the Length of Working Life Project details
Working-Life Expectancy at Older Age Project details
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.