Trends in mortality by labour market position around retirement ages in three European countries with different welfare regimes

Int J Public Health. 2013 Feb;58(1):99-108. doi: 10.1007/s00038-012-0359-8. Epub 2012 Apr 29.


Objectives: In the face of economic downturn and increasing life expectancy, many industrial nations are adopting a policy of postponing the retirement age. However, questions still remain around the consequence of working longer into old age. We examine mortality by work status around retirement ages in countries with different welfare regimes; Finland (social democratic), Turin (Italy; conservative), and England and Wales (liberal).

Methods: Death rates and rate ratios (RRs) (reference rates = 'in-work'), 1970 s-2000 s, were estimated for those aged 45-64 years using the England and Wales longitudinal study, Turin longitudinal study, and the Finnish linked register study.

Results: Mortality of the not-in-work was consistently higher than the in-work. Death rates for the not-in-work were lowest in Turin and highest in Finland. Rate ratios were smallest in Turin (RR men 1972-76 1.73; 2002-06 1.63; women 1.22; 1.68) and largest in Finland (RR men 1991-95 3.03; 2001-05 3.80; women 3.62; 4.11). Unlike RRs for men, RRs for women increased in every country (greatest in Finland).

Conclusions: These findings signal that overall, employment in later life is associated with lower mortality, regardless of welfare regime.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Employment / trends
  • England
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality / trends*
  • Registries
  • Retirement / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Welfare / classification*
  • Wales