Life after work: Older Australians' experiences of early exit from the workforce

Catherine Mackenzie, Dominic Keuskamp, Anna Ziersch, Frances Baum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Little is known about the experience of those in the baby boom cohort who are outside the labour market. Understanding their experience has the potential to inform policy strategies to support older people to remain longer in the workforce. Using in-depth interview data from 26 participants, this paper examines the reasons people aged between 50 and 64 years give for being not-employed, how they perceive it affects their health, how socioeconomic characteristics shape their experience and what would entice them back into paid work. Participants' main reasons for being not-employed included: feeling financially able and ready to exit, feeling unhappy about workplace reorganisations, disability, or their partner's retirement or ill-health. The reasons given and the degree to which they had planned to exit the workforce affected their willingness and capacity to consider returning. Key determinants of participants' health and wellbeing after stopping paid work were the extent to which they had planned their exit and the status of their health and wealth at the time of their exit. The paper concludes there is some scope for increasing the number of employed older people if policy makers attend to workforce health and wellbeing as crucial to workforce retention policy development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-369
Number of pages23
JournalAustralian Journal of Social Issues
Issue number4
Early online date2011
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


  • Baby boomers
  • Labour market
  • Pensions
  • Population ageing
  • Workforce health


Dive into the research topics of 'Life after work: Older Australians' experiences of early exit from the workforce'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this