Objectives. In empirical studies on predictors of retirement, midlife experiences have often remained implicit or been neglected. This study aims to improve our understanding of retirement by examining the impact of midlife educational, work, health, and family experiences on early retirement intentions and behavior. We distinguish theoretically and empirically between financial and nonfinancial preretirement factors through which midlife experiences could affect retirement.
Methods. Using panel data of 1,229 Dutch male older workers, we estimated linear regression models to explain retirement intentions and logistic regression models to explain retirement behavior.
Results. Midlife experiences in all studied life spheres are related to retirement intentions. Educational investments, job changes, late transitions into parenthood, and late divorces are associated with weaker intentions to retire early. Midlife health problems are related to stronger early retirement intentions. For midlife work and family experiences, the relationships are (partly) mediated by the preretirement financial opportunity structure. In the educational, work, and health spheres, the preretirement nonfinancial situation has a mediating effect. Only some of the predictors of retirement intentions also predicted retirement behavior.
Discussion. Given the destandardization of life courses, information on distal life experiences might become even more important toward understanding retirement in the future.
keywords: children; divorce; education; life course; retirement; work history