Work Stress Among Older Employees in Germany: Effects on Health and Retirement Age.

Jana Mäcken, University of Cologne

Background: Policy makers in aging societies have aimed for the extension of work lives by increasing the official retirement age. Despite these efforts, many people stop working before reaching this retirement age. Previous research has shown that the main reason for early retirement is poor health. Health in turn is influenced by exposure to the job environment, in which the majority of people spends a comparatively high proportion of their lifetime. The increase in prevalence of psychological disorders indicates that work stress has become an ever more important risk for health and early retirement.

Objective: This study examines the relationship between work stress and retirement age. Moreover, it investigates whether this relationship is mediated by health.

Methods: A German subsample of the longitudinal Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) is linked with register data of the German Public Pension Scheme (SHARE-RV). The sample followed 304 individuals aged 50-65 at baseline from 2004 to 2015. The data contains information on self-rated health (SRH) and work stress, measured by the two dimensions of job strain and effort-reward-imbalance, and age of retirement. Structural equation modeling is applied to analyze the direct and indirect effects of work stress on retirement age via health. Work stress is lagged in a way that it temporally precedes SRH and retirement age.

Results: Only one dimension of job stress, that is higher job strain, relates to poorer SRH and lower retirement age. The other dimension, effort reward imbalance, has no effect. SRH does not operate as mediator in the relationship between work stress and retirement age.

Conclusions: Improving psychosocial working conditions related to stress can help to reduce earlier retirement beyond workers’ health status. Lowering job strain potentially extends people’s work life, as it made a direct contribution in explaining low retirement age.


Presented in Session 1128: Ageing and Intergenerational Relations