• Katherine Matthews

Student thesis: Unknown


Objectives: Extending working lives is a major strategy in policy responses to ageing populations. This is currently being implemented by means of the increasing UK state pension age. However, the health effects of such changes are highly debatable. A systematic review conducted by this thesis revealed that previous research on the topic has provided a diverse set of findings. One of the reasons for the lack of agreement between previous studies is the high degree of heterogeneity in the study samples of older adults. This is statistically revealed by a meta-analysis conducted in this study. The research presented within this thesis examines whether extending working lives is beneficial for health, and focuses on the importance of accounting for quality of work when considering these effects. Methods: The study used respondents from waves 1 to 5 of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing who worked until state pension age and then entered either later-life employment or retirement. Linear spline regressions examined trajectories of depression, self-rated health and cognitive function across the retirement age period, stratified by work quality and retirement. Propensity score matching was subsequently used to estimate unbiased treatment effects of extended working as opposed to retirement, and then of poor and good quality work individually in relation to retirement. Results: The spline models indicated entering retirement from work was associated with a significant change in patterns of depression and self-rated health, but continuation of work was not. Retiree trajectories consistently showed poorer outcomes than those of respondents who were working. The results of the propensity score matching found no significant differences in health on the basis of belonging to the group of overall workers compared to retirees. However when work was stratified on the basis of its quality, significant differences became apparent. Belonging to the group of poor quality workers was associated with significantly worse depression than belonging to both the good quality workers and retirees, and belonging to the group of good quality worker was associated with significantly better self-rated health than belonging to the group of retirees. Discussion: The heterogeneous socio-demographic and health characteristics of the older working population should be taken into account when examining impacts of employment on health. Failure to account for differences in quality of work may lead to the incorrect assumption that extended employment is beneficial to the health of all workers. If older people are going to be encouraged to work for longer periods of time, beneficial effects need to apply to all working groups. Employers need to ensure adjustments to individual working patterns and environments are made in order to suit the needs of an ageing workforce.
Date of Award1 Aug 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorTarani Chandola (Supervisor), Neil Pendleton (Supervisor) & James Nazroo (Supervisor)


  • Ageing
  • Employment
  • Retirement
  • Health

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