Deciding whether to work after retirement: The role of the psychological experience of aging

Fasbender, U., Deller, J., Wang, M., & Wiernik, B. M.
Journal of Vocational Behavior, 84(3), 215–224.
(2014) http://doi.org/10/bc4p

Due to the graying of the global labor markets, post-retirement employment is becoming increasingly important in the 21st century. To better understand older people’s decisions to engage in post-retirement employment, the current study investigated the role of the psychological experience of aging. Two dimensions that capture positive aging experience (i.e., personal growth and gaining self-knowledge) and two dimensions that capture negative aging experience (i.e., physical loss and social loss) were differentiated and their relations to post-retirement employment were hypothesized. We argue that aging experience may influence the decision to work after retirement by generating both, approach and avoidance responses. Longitudinal data from the German Aging Survey (N = 551) were used to test the hypotheses. The results of structural equation modeling indicated that retirees who experienced aging as social loss and as personal growth were more likely to engage in post-retirement employment a decade later, while retirees who experienced aging as gaining self-knowledge were less likely to engage in post-retirement employment. Theoretical and practical implications of this study are discussed.