Early Work Exit in Low and High Socioeconomic Groups: The Influence of Health

Sascha de Breij, VU University Medical Center
Dorly Deeg, VU University Medical Center
Moritz Hess, Technische Universität Dortmund
Daniel Holman, University of Sheffield
Jana Mäcken, University of Cologne
Jeevitha Yogachandiran Qvist, Aalborg University

Objective: Previous research has shown that poor health is an important risk factor for early work exit. Workers with a low socioeconomic position (SEP) experience more health problems and usually exit the work force earlier than high SEP workers. The objective of this study was to examine if the association between health and early work exit differs between older workers with a low and a high SEP.

Methods: Longitudinal datasets from four collaborating countries of the EXTEND project were used: The Netherlands (Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam), Denmark (Danish Longitudinal Study of Aging), England (English Longitudinal Study of Ageing) and Germany (German Aging Study), in order to obtain a stronger evidence base. The effect of poor health (self-rated health (SRH), functional limitations and depressive symptoms) on early work exit was examined using Cox regression analysis. We stratified for SEP and reported separate results for men and women and younger (50+) and older workers (62+).

Results: Workers with low SEP had worse health than workers with high SEP. In both the younger (50+) and older (62+) agegroup, those with less-than-good SRH and functional limitations had a higher risk of early work exit compared to their healthy peers (HR ranging 1.64-4.06 in low SEP; HR ranging 1.31-4.87 in high SEP). In the younger agegroup, having depressive symptoms was also a riskfactor (HR 2.23 in low SEP; HR 2.79 in high SEP). Some gender differences were found, but these were inconsistent. Results differed by country which may be due to differences in welfare regimes.

Conclusions: Poor physical and mental health is an important risk factor for early work exit, regardless of SEP. Poor health is more common among low SEP workers. Therefore, it is important to implement policies to improve health in older workers, especially those with low SEP, to prevent early work exit.

Presented in Poster Session 2