Work Ability Trajectories and Retirement Pathways: A Longitudinal Analysis of Older American Workers

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Abstract

Objective:

To determine whether older workers who follow different work ability (WA) trajectories tend to follow different retirement pathways.

Methods:

Nationally representative data on Americans born between 1943 and 1948. Latent class growth modeling to estimate trajectories of work ability between ages 53–54 and 65–66. Multinomial log-linear models to assess the association between WA trajectories and retirement pathways.

Results:

Three WA trajectories were identified: high (74%), declining (17%), and low (9%). Low WA leads more often to an early-gradual retirement. Declining WA leads to both early-gradual and early-crisp retirements.

Conclusions:

Workers with low and declining WA are more at risk of unemployment, disability, and inactivity prior to retirement; workers with declining WA are also likely to make a direct transition to early retirement. Future changes to social security should consider inter-individual variation over time in WA.

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