When do people want to retire? The preferred retirement age gap between Eastern and Western Europe explained

Wouter de Tavernier, Ave Roots


Debates surrounding working longer focus mainly on increasing legal and effective retirement ages, leaving the preferred retirement age largely overlooked. There is a large East-West divide in Europe regarding the latter, with individuals in Eastern Europe wanting to retire earlier. We aim to explain this gap in terms of differences in working conditions and state-level legal conditions. Using the 2010 European Social Survey data on employed individuals aged 50-70 in 24 countries enriched with country-level information, we find that part of the explanation is found in the lower levels of job control found in Eastern Europe. Moreover, the results suggest that Karasek’s job demand/control model fits better in Western than Eastern European countries. Another explanation is found at the country level, where the legal retirement age accounts for a major part of the gap in preferred retirement ages between East and West.


Preferred retirement age; job demand; job control; legal retirement age; Europe

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