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Labour Market Policy for ‘Active Ageing’ in Europe: Expanding the Options for Retirement Transitions


Based on the theory of Transitional Labour Markets (TLM), this article derives normative criteria for ‘active ageing’. We argue why and under what conditions more employment for older people can help to improve their quality of life and can thus be considered an important part of future social policy. To this end, the article presents a brief review of the employment situation of older workers (aged 55–64) in the different European countries so as to identify what precisely might be required at the level of labour market policy. It systematically discusses the promoting and inhibiting factors behind the significant variation in the employment of older workers across Europe, and tests their explanatory value in a simple statistical model. Finally, we put the quantitative evidence into the perspective of policy examples, summing up some general strategies for ‘active ageing’.

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B. Ebbinghaus (2006), Reforming Early Retirement in Europe, Japan and the USA, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

M. Ferrera (2005), The Boundaries of Welfare: European Integration and the New Spatial Politics of Social Protection, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

T. Korver and P. R. A. Oeij (2005), ‘The soft law of the covenant: making governance instrumental’, European Journal of Industrial Relations, 11: 3, 367–84.

G. Reday-Mulvey (2005), Working Beyond 60 – Key Policies and Practices in Europe, Houndmills and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

F. W. Scharpf (2000), ‘The viability of advanced welfare states in the international economy: vulnerabilities and options’, Journal of European Public Policy, 7: 2, 190228.

R. Schettkat and L. Yocarini (2005), ‘The shift to services employment: a review of the literature’, Structural Change and Economic Dynamics 17: 127–47.

G. Schmid (2002), ‘Towards a theory of transitional labour markets’, in G. Schmid and B. Gazier (eds), The Dynamics of Full Employment: Social Integration through Transitional Labour Markets, Cheltenham and Northampton: Edward Elgar.

G. Schmid (2006), ‘Social risk management through transitional labour markets’, Socio-Economic Review, 4: 1, 133.

A. Walker (2002), ‘A strategy for active ageing’, International Social Security Review, 55: 1, 121–39.

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Journal of Social Policy
  • ISSN: 0047-2794
  • EISSN: 1469-7823
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-social-policy
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