Returns to work following retirement in Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom

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Most unretirement research has focused on single countries, indicating that socio-economic advantage and financial need predict unretirement in particular settings. Remarkably, little is known about whether the frequency and predictors of unretirement—returning to paid work after ceasing work at retirement—vary in relation to the country setting. We followed recent retirees over time in Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom to compare unretirement rates and predictors, and whether financial need predicted unretirement in a middle-income setting rather than in a high-income setting. We harmonized data ex post from four prospective surveys: German Socio-Economic Panel Study (1991–2016), Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey (1994–2016), and for the United Kingdom, British Household Panel Survey (1991–2008), and Understanding Society (2010–2015). Unretirement was examined using Cox regression in relation to gender, age, education, health, household income, and financial difficulties. After 20 years of follow-up, the cumulative hazard of unretirement attained 0.20 in German, 0.24 in British, and 0.40 in Russian participants. Unretirement rates were generally higher for retirees who were younger, in better health and had higher household income. Worries about finances did not predict unretirement in Russia; such concerns predicted higher unretirement rates only in fully adjusted models in Germany and the United Kingdom. Since retirees in financial need may have difficulties finding suitable jobs, unretirement is a process with the potential to deepen financial inequality in later life. Variations in unretirement rates and predictors across countries demonstrate the importance of extending unretirement research to incorporate a cross-national comparative perspective.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWork, Aging and Retirement
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2024


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