Late-career work disengagement: the role of proximity to retirement and career experiences

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Objectives. Even though in retirement and career theories reference is made to a preretirement work disengagement process among older workers, quantitative empirical knowledge about this process is limited. The aim of this study is to improve our understanding of work disengagement in the preretirement period, by examining the impact of proximity to planned retirement (anticipated future) and work, educational, and health experiences (lived past) on changes of work disengagement during late careers. Method. Using two-wave panel data collected in 2001 and 2006–2007 among Dutch older workers (N = 596), a scale was developed to measure work investments, activities, and motivation during late careers. We estimated conditional change models to examine changes of these scale scores (i.e., disengagement or re-engagement) over the studied period. Results. In line with the preretirement work disengagement process hypothesis, this study shows that many older employees disengage more from work when getting closer to their planned retirement age. Making promotion slows down the disengagement process. Declining health, in contrast, accelerates the process. Discussion. For achieving a comprehensive understanding of the retirement process, not only the lived past but also the anticipated future (i.e., expected time-left in the current state) should be taken into account. Key words: careers; life course; older workers; preretirement process; work disengagement
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)455-463
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology, Series B
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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