Organising Institutions

ICOH Scientific Committee

„Aging and Work“

Dept. of Occup Health Science, University of Wuppertal, Germany

Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany

Introduction

Working populations in modern societies are ageing; at the same time work participation rates of older workers as well as the average length of working life are increasing substantially throughout the European Union. The EU and many national policies aim to further extend working lives by reducing early exit pathways and increasing statutory retirement age. Alongside this institutions such as the OECD have echoed the call to postpone retirement age and create stronger incentives to remain in work until later in life.

These trends and future perspectives on extending working lives raise a number of key challenges for research and how we adequately inform policy makers. A robust collection of evidence is required to explore whether and under which circumstances future generations of older workers will be able and willing to work longer – and as well as who will bear the costs, at both the individual and societal level, for these changes.

To get the best answers we need to make sure that we are asking the right questions: Which factors are contributing to early exit from employment? How important are conditions at earlier stages of the life course? Which are the typical exit paths that are taken? And how do social and occupational groups differ in this respect? How about men and women? What keeps older workers working for longer? And what are the consequences of extending working lives for work ability, work motivation, health and wellbeing for older people, enterprises and societies?

The relationship between work and health remains one crucial issue for employment in later life. To understand this we need to address some key questions:  How does paid (and unpaid) work affect the health of older workers? Which groups are specifically affected? What does poor health mean for work ability and motivation to continue working in later life? Which factors enable older workers with poor health to continue working?

In the past two decades many scientific disciplines and communities have been increasingly dealing with these questions. In 2014/15, an interdisciplinary group of 46 researchers from eleven countries has – within the JPI MYBL project “Understanding employment participation of older workers” (JPI UEP)– analysed the state of retirement research around work participation of older workers. In this project it became clear that research has achieved much in the field, but that this research is unevenly distributed between countries (“regional gap”) and that many specific topics in the field (e.g. older women, migrants) urgently need to be addressed (“thematic gap”). Above all, a “conceptual gap” was identified: the need for an interdisciplinary scientific “broad view” on the interplay of the multitude of determinants and on the process of retirement.

 

Objectives of the conference

These research challenges indicated above will be in the focus of this conference, as it shall

  • focus on evidence from quantitative as well as qualitative longitudinal research,
  • consider the multifaceted role of work as a core determinant of health, work ability and employment participation,
  • bridge different research communities (e.g. occupational health, social epidemiology, economy, labour market research, psychology, sociology, gerontology, demography), and, not least
  • discuss the potential for advancing retirement research approaches.

 

Conference Topics

“Work and retirement”

“Work, age and health”

“Life course approaches in retirement research”

“Measuring change in longitudinal research”

“Cross-national assessments – opportunities and challenges”

 

Target audience

The conference is aimed at researchers of all scientific disciplines involved in the thematic field of the conference. The conference should also attract professionals and policy makers in the field.