Are baby boomers healthy enough to keep working? Health as a mediator of extended labour force participation

Jennifer Buckley, Lisel O'Dwyer, Graeme Tucker, Robert Adams, Gary Wittert, Graeme Hugo

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    5 Citations (Scopus)


    One strategy to reduce the economic impact of structural ageing is to increase and/or extend the workforce participation of older workers. Currently, a large proportion of this group consists of post-World War II baby-boomers (1946-1965) whose characteristics, experiences and attitudes differ markedly from their predecessors. Maintaining good health underpins strategies to extend workforce participation among baby-boomers but there is little hard evidence supporting the assumption that baby-boomers are generally in good health compared to previous generations and will, therefore, be able to work longer. Using a dataset that includes biomedical and self-reported health for a representative sample of South Australian baby-boomers, we analyse the extent to which current labour force participation is mediated by health. We find that health is a significant factor in workforce exits. Respondents with fair-to-poor self-rated health, or with diabetes, arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or cardiovascular disease, were more likely to be retired or unable to work, and around 10 per cent of older baby-boomers (born 1946-1955) who have left the workforce rate their health as poor or fair. The data suggest that these patterns are likely to be replicated in younger baby-boomers (born 1956-1965).

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)197-221
    Number of pages25
    JournalAustralian Journal of Social Issues
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


    • Baby boomers
    • Chronic conditions
    • Future health
    • Labour force participation


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