To work – or not to work?

Many people face this crucial question as they approach retirement age. A plethora of factors come into play in shaping individual choices of whether to prolong a career: the working conditions, employment prospects, household circumstances (e.g. the situation of one’s spouse or partner, caring responsibilities for family members), major events in the course of one’s life, work-life balance and accrued retirement benefits, to mention a few. An event organised jointly by CEPS, Eurofound, NIESR and FACTAGE on January 24th, in the context of CEPS’ ageing societies programme, explored several of the issues underlying the policies that influence an individual’s decision to continue working beyond retirement age. While working longer is a necessity for financial sustainability in many European countries, a central message of the various presentations was to look beyond averages to ensure that policies are in place that meet the needs of all socio-economic groups. This is needed not least in view of the large socio-economic differences in health and mortality levels presented at the conference.

Following 11 short, ‘to-the-point’ presentations by experts, the conference ended with a panel discussion among representatives from business, trade unions, the Commission and the Bulgarian Presidency. The most contentious point in the debate was how to distribute the costs between employers and employees of breaks in employment taken during a worker’s career. Such breaks are often essential to facilitate re-training and allow informal care activities, as the length of working lives continues to expand.

Slides from the event are available from the FACTAGE website here.