Honest Labor Bears a Lovely Face: Will Late-Life Unemployment Impact Health and Satisfaction in Retirement?

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Unemployment among older adults during recessionary cycles has been tied to early retirement decisions and negative health outcomes. This study explored episodes of unemployment experienced between age 50 and retirement as predictors of retirement age and health outcomes.


A total of 1540 participants from the U.S. Health and Retirement Study aged 50 years and older who transitioned from workforce to retirement were analyzed with descriptive statistics and multiple regression controlling for unemployment, demographics, and health status.


Late-life unemployment significantly related to earlier retirement age and lowered life satisfaction, independent of income effects. We found no main effect for late-life unemployment on physical health status.


Potential improvements in future life satisfaction might be gained if job search obstacles are removed for older unemployed adults, reducing reliance on involuntary early retirement as an income source.

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