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30.04.2019 | Original Contribution

The role of health in flexible working arrangements in Germany

Avenues to a longer working life?

Zeitschrift für Gerontologie und Geriatrie
Charlotte Fechter



In the context of retaining labour resources to meet demographic developments, phased retirement on the basis of flexible work (FW) aims at delaying the labor force exits of older workers.


How do health conditions relate to the use of FW as an instrument for gradual retirement to extend working lives?

Material and methods

By evaluating Cox proportional hazard models and by linking survey data from the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) with register data from the Versichertenkontenstichprobe of the pension insurance records (VSKT), labor force exit rates at 50–65 years of age depending on health were analyzed.


This study collated information about the discussion of labor flexibility as a tool to retain older workers in the labor market. It shows that reduced late career working hours leads to higher labor exit rates. Continuing to work in later life may be positively associated with health on the basis of FW, which fosters opportunities to work part-time. Employees with poor health are unlikely to prolong their working lives through FW and are more likely to leave the labor market early. In line with research pointing towards the emergence of new forms of inequality among older individuals by changing welfare state incentives, the findings show significant impacts of life-course determinants on labor exit behavior.


Increasing labour market retention on the basis of reducing working time depends on social attributes and personal preconditions. Influencing the attitude of older workers towards late retirement to adapt to future changes in societies remains a demand for research and policy debate discussing the benefits of gradual retirement for older workers.

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