The life course perspective suggests that the retirement process cannot be understood
thoroughly without paying attention to distal life experiences. In empirical studies on predictors of retirement, however, mid-life experiences often have remained implicit or have been neglected. This study aims to improve our understanding of retirement, by studying the impact of mid-life experiences in the educational, work, health, and family life spheres on retirement intentions and behavior.
Using panel data of 1229 Dutch male older workers, we estimated linear regression
models to explain retirement intentions and Cox proportional hazards regression models to
explain retirement behavior. Mid-life experiences in all studied life spheres were related to retirement intentions. For mid-life work experiences (dismissal and employer change) the relationships were explained by the perceived financial consequences of these experiences (pension shortcomings). The effects of most mid-life experiences in the educational, health, and family spheres remained significant after
controlling for different aspects of the preretirement financial situation. Only some of the
predictors of retirement intentions also predicted retirement behavior. Given the de-standardization of life courses, information on distal life experiences might become even more important for understanding retirement in the future.
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