Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Public Health and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

‘All those things together made me retire’: qualitative study on early retirement among Dutch employees

Kerstin G Reeuwijk12, Astrid de Wind134*, Marjan J Westerman2, Jan Fekke Ybema1, Allard J van der Beek34 and Goedele A Geuskens1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Work, Health & Care, Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research TNO, Hoofddorp, The Netherlands

2 Department of Methodology and Statistics, Institute of Health Sciences and the EMGO+ Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

3 Department of Public and Occupational Health, the EMGO+ Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

4 Body@Work, Research Center on Physical Activity, Work and Health, TNO-VU/VUmc, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Public Health 2013, 13:516  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-516

Published: 28 May 2013

Abstract

Background

Due to the aging of the population and subsequent higher pressure on public finances, there is a need for employees in many European countries to extend their working lives. One way in which this can be achieved is by employees refraining from retiring early. Factors predicting early retirement have been identified in quantitative research, but little is known on why and how these factors influence early retirement. The present qualitative study investigated which non-health related factors influence early retirement, and why and how these factors influence early retirement.

Methods

A qualitative study among 30 Dutch employees (60–64 years) who retired early, i.e. before the age of 65, was performed by means of face-to-face interviews. Participants were selected from the cohort Study on Transitions in Employment, Ability and Motivation (STREAM).

Results

For most employees, a combination of factors played a role in the transition from work to early retirement, and the specific factors involved differed between individuals. Participants reported various factors that pushed towards early retirement (‘push factors’), including organizational changes at work, conflicts at work, high work pressure, high physical job demands, and insufficient use of their skills and knowledge by others in the organization. Employees who reported such push factors towards early retirement often felt unable to find another job. Factors attracting towards early retirement (‘pull factors’) included the wish to do other things outside of work, enjoy life, have more flexibility, spend more time with a spouse or grandchildren, and care for others. In addition, the financial opportunity to retire early played an important role. Factors influenced early retirement via changes in the motivation, ability and opportunity to continue working or retire early.

Conclusion

To support the prolongation of working life, it seems important to improve the fit between the physical and psychosocial job characteristics on the one hand, and the abilities and wishes of the employee on the other hand. Alongside improvements in the work environment that enable and motivate employees to prolong their careers, a continuous dialogue between the employer and employee on the (future) person-job fit and tailored interventions might be helpful.

Keywords:
Early retirement; Pull factors; Push factors; Qualitative study