Employers’ Retirement Age Norms in European Comparison

Policies incentivizing longer working lives can remain ineffective if employers are not able and willing to employ an aging workforce. Depending on what employers consider appropriate age norms for work and retirement, they may be more willing to recruit and retain older workers. This study investigates how these retirement age norms differ across Europe and how they are related to country- and gender-specific pension policies and employment practices. The study uses data from the European Social Survey round 9 (collected in 2018) for 27 countries. Employers are identified as self-employed with personnel and managers who supervise others. The data include questions about the ages of when someone is too young to retire and when someone is too old to work. These items are combined and used in a set of multilevel interval regression models to analyze: (a) How employers’ retirement age norms differ from those of employees and (b) How employers’ retirement age norms vary across countries. The results indicate that, overall, employers have higher retirement age norms than employees, but that the difference narrows substantially once controlled for other factors. Employers’ retirement age norms are positively related to countries’ genderspecific statutory retirement ages and older-worker employment rates. In the case of statutory retirement ages, this association is stronger among employers than among various socioeconomic groups of employees.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.


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