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Work–retirement cultures: a further piece of the puzzle to explain differences in the labour market participation of older people in Europe?


The article examines to what extent culture is a further piece of the puzzle to explain differences in the labour market participation of older people in Europe. This approach is in clear contrast to the existing literature on that topic which is largely economically oriented and more focused on socio-economic determinants. In the first part, different theoretical conceptions regarding the impact of culture on individual actions are discussed with the aim of developing the concept of work–retirement cultures. In the second part, the article gathers empirical evidence on differences in the work–retirement culture in 22 European societies and analyses the interplay between the work–retirement culture and the labour market participation of people aged between 55 and 64 years using logistic random intercept regression analysis. The analysis draws on the third round of the European Social Survey. The results give some clear indications that the work–retirement culture plays its part in explaining differences in the labour market participation of older people in Europe and thus clarifies that the timing of retirement is not fully determined by pension policies. Accordingly, the results of the study illustrate that it is not sufficient to solely change the legal rules for the transition to retirement. Rather, people need to be additionally convinced of the individual benefits of remaining in employment.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Andreas Jansen, Institute for Work, Skills and Training (IAQ), University of Duisburg-Essen, Forsthausweg 2, 47057 Duisburg, Germany E-mail:
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Ageing & Society
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