Physically demanding jobs and early retirement in the Netherlands and Austria: a cross country comparison

  • Katharina Ira Heindl Katharina Ira Heindl

Background: Given the rise in retirement age and the stricter eligibility criteria for early retirement I analyze the intention to retire early of people in physically demanding jobs in Austria and the Netherlands. Austria has a heavy occupation early retirement system in place while the implementation of a similar system is being discussed for the Netherlands. Since 2007, Austria maintains a ‘list of heavy occupations’ (see appendix) which classifies certain professions as heavy occupations, allowing workers in these jobs to retire early. Therefore, workers’ intention to retire before and after the implementation of the early retirement system is analyzed. Furthermore, workers’ intention to retire in the same time period is observed for the Netherlands.

Methods: Baseline data from the ‘Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe’ (SHARE) was obtained for 3.342 Austrian men and 4.682 Austrian women as well as 3.812 Dutch men and 4.628 Dutch women. The waves 1 (2004/2005), 2 (2006/2007) and 4 (2011) were analyzed. Data on intended early retirement and whether a current job is physically demanding was obtained from structured interviews and questionnaires. Samples are analyzed separately for Austria and the Netherlands using OLS regressions.

Results: In the Netherlands in all waves for age groups above 55, being in a physically demanding job is significantly associated with intending to retire early. The results for workers below the age of 55 differ between waves but most significant results have not proven to be robust. In Austria, wave 1 and 2 show no robust significant effects of being in a physically demanding job on the intention to retire early. In wave 4 being in a physically demanding job in Austria can be associated with intending to retire early. The results for Austria tend to be constant for the age groups below and above 55.

Conclusion: Being in a physically demanding job is associated with intending to retire early for subjects above the age of 55 in the Netherlands and for subjects in wave 4 in Austria, but not in waves 1 and 2. Since 2007, Austria has early retirement system for heavy occupations in place which enables workers to do so. Since the demand for early retirement for heavy occupations exists in the Netherlands, the implementation of a similar scheme to the Austrian one is worth analyzing.

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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