Work Beyond the Age of 50

A new GLO Discussion Paper finds a rather limited role of mental health in comparison to physical health for older individuals’ work.

The Global Labor Organization (GLO) is an independent, non-partisan and non-governmental organization that functions as an international network and virtual platform to stimulate global research, debate and collaboration.

GLO Discussion Paper No. 796, 2021

Work Beyond the Age of 50. What Role for Mental v.s. Physical Health? Download PDF
Vandenberghe, Vincent


GLO Fellow Vincent Vandenberghe

Author Abstract: This paper contributes to the literature on old employment barriers by exploring empirically the relative importance of mental v.s. physical health in determining work. It combines regression and variance decomposition analyses to quantify the respective role of mental v.s. physical health. The data used are from SHARE and inform in great detail on the health but also work status (i.e. employment and hours) of individuals aged 50+, interviewed between 2004 and 2017 in 21 European countries. The main result of the paper is that of the rather limited role of mental health – in comparison to physical health – in accounting for older individuals’ work. The paper also shows that health (physical or mental) is much better at predicting old people’s propensity to be in employment than the number of hours they work. Finally, the paper reveals that, in comparison to women, men’s work is more driven by their health status.

GLO Discussion Papers are research and policy papers of the GLO Network which are widely circulated to encourage discussion. Provided in cooperation with EconStor, a service of the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, GLO Discussion Papers are among others listed in RePEc (see IDEAS,  EconPapers)Complete list of all GLO DPs – downloadable for free.


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