Education and sex influence working beyond retirement age

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Predictors of extended work life in the wake of pension reforms
Research has identified several factors that contribute to a longer working life. These include personal attributes like sex, family situation, education, and job level; health factors like disease diagnosis; and work-related factors like job satisfaction and physical demands. An age-friendly workplace that fosters job satisfaction can also delay retirement. In Sweden, pension reforms between 1998 and 2003 raised the employment age from 65 to 67, allowing flexible retirement ages. However, there’s a gap in research regarding those over 65, particularly in understanding the long-term effects of these pension reforms on work participation. The study aims to explore socio-demographic, health, and work environment predictors of still working at ages 66 and 72, and to see whether these predictors have evolved over time.

Two NEAR population studies, including 1230 persons, were used to investigate this: the Swedish National study on Aging and Care – Skåne (SNAC-S) and Nordanstig (SNAC-N).

Education and sex influence working beyond retirement age
Individuals with at least three to four years of university education and those in higher-skilled professions at age 60 were more likely to remain in the workforce at ages 66 and 72. In addition, more men than women worked after age 65. More factors associated with continued work at age 66 included having less than two diseases and lower physical activity at work six years before. Also, the majority of those working beyond traditional retirement ages were healthy. This aligns with previous findings that better health predicts a longer working life. Overall, the increase in active work life at age 66 is most likely attributable to pension reforms that raised the employment age from 65 to 67. Although education, health, and job type are significant factors in prolonging working life, nuanced differences, especially between men and women, must be explored further to fully understand the dynamics of working into older age. In the future, qualitative research can be a helpful way to understand older workers’ personal experiences and how these relate to their health and well-being.

Marie Bjuhr, first author of the study. Photo: Private.


Bjuhr M, Engström M, Welmer A K, Elmståhl S, Sjölund BM. (2023). Health and work-related factors as predictors of still being active in working life at age 66 and 72 in a Swedish population: A longitudinal study. Work (Reading, Mass.). 2023;76(4), 1481–1492.

Part of the doctoral thesis:

Bjuhr, M (2023). Being active at working life at older ages. Doctoral Thesis. Gävle: University of Gävle.