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 preretirement work disengagement.
Methods. Using panel data of Dutch older workers, a scale was developed to measure the hypothesized reductions in work investments, activities, and motivation (i.e., disengagement) in preretirement years. We estimated linear regression models (cross-sectional analyses; N=1634) and conditional change models (panel analyses; N=652) to examine the preretirement work disengagement process.
Results. In line with the notion of the preretirement disengagement process, this study shows that many older employees disengage more from work when getting closer to their planned retirement age. Career experiences of promotion and employer change slow down the disengagement process. Declining health, in contrast, accelerates the process.
Discussion. For achieving a comprehensive understanding of the retirement process, not only past and present experiences, but also the anticipated future (i.e., expected time-left in the current state) should be taken into account.
keywords: life course; older workers; preretirement process; work history