Educational influences on early retirement through disability in Ireland

Occup Med (Lond). 2015 Jun;65(4):303-8. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqv005. Epub 2015 Mar 9.


Background: Studies suggest a higher prevalence of early retirement through disability among older people with lower educational attainment. There have been no national studies in Ireland on the factors that affect early withdrawal from the labour force through disability or long-term illness.

Aims: To identify and analyse potential impacts of education on early retirement through disability in the over 50 age cohort of the Irish Labour force.

Methods: We analysed the educational attainment of participants using The Irish Longitudinal Study of Ageing (TILDA). The group of interest were those aged 50-75 who had retired early. The sample was dichotomized on disability. Examination of interviewer-recorded information on background influences determining early retirement decisions included the following factors: age, gender, education, family and socio-economic circumstances, including parental education.

Results: A total of 334 of 1179 study subjects (28%) retired early through disability. Comparison of those retired early with and without disability showed a significantly higher frequency of lower educational attainment both personally and for parents. Men with lower educational attainment and from a non-professional background were more likely to retire early through disability. Non-professional disabled respondents with less well-educated parents had lower educational attainment than non-disabled respondents.

Conclusions: Among TILDA participants, educational attainment appears to influence early retirement through disability. The sector of previous employment was also a significant factor. Behaviour, lifestyle and employment choice are influenced by educational level, which may affect cognitive ability to process health information. Factors affecting the education-disability relationship could include parental education, employment status and socio-economic characteristics.

Keywords: Disability; early retirement; education..

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Disabled Persons / psychology
  • Disabled Persons / statistics & numerical data
  • Education / standards*
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Ireland
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retirement / psychology*