Occupational class and working beyond the retirement age: a cohort study

Publication date: 
May, 2017
Authors: 

Virtanen M, Oksanen T, Pentti J, Ervasti J, Head J, Stenholm S, Vahtera J, Kivimäki M.

Objectives The aim of this study was to examine occupational class differences in working more than six months beyond the mandatory retirement age and factors that may contribute to these differences. Methods The study comprised a prospective cohort study of a total of 5331 Finnish municipal employees (73% women) who were not on work disability pension and reached the age eligible for old-age pension in 2005-2011. Occupational class included four categories: managers and professionals, lower grade non-manual, skilled manual, and elementary occupations. Survey responses while at work were linked to national health and pension registers. Results A total of 921 participants (17.3%) worked beyond the pensionable age. Compared with elementary workers, skilled manual workers had a similar probability [gender-adjusted risk ratio (RR) 0.95, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.72-1.23] while lower grade non-manual workers had a 2.03-fold (95% CI 1.59-2.58), and managers and professionals had a 1.79-fold (95% CI 1.41-2.27) probability of working beyond the pensionable age. Adjustment for physical workload (32.0% in lower non-manual, 36.7% in managers and professionals), work time control (20.4% and 11.4%) and perceived work ability (16.5% and 29.1%) contributed to the largest attenuation for these associations. Analyses using a counterfactual approach suggested greater mediated effects for physical workload and work time control than those observed in traditional mediation analyses. Conclusions Employees with higher occupational classes are two times more likely to continue working beyond the retirement age compared to those with lower occupational classes. A large proportion of these differences were explained by having physically light job, better work time control, and better self-rated work ability among employees with high occupational class.