Selected findings from SHARE First Results Books:
- Training pays off: Training of older workers is worthwhile both for employers and employees. As the SHARE data show, those participating in training, stay more likely employed than people without training. Consequently, training programs facilitate the preservation of valuable expertise for the employer while at the same time they reduce the risk of unemployment and increase pension rights. Training of older workers thus is an effective mean to lower the risk of old age poverty and social exclusion.
- Self-employment 50+ – self-realisation or hidden unemployment: Many older people may, at some time, decide or be forced to leave their job. In many cases, and particularly so at older agers, returning into wage-employment may be difficult. Becoming self-employed may then be perceived as an option to get back into work. An interesting question is whether older people who go into self-employment do so out of necessity to avoid social and economic deprivation that comes with unemployment or whether they are motivated by entrepreneurship. A SHARE-based study shows that those who go into self-employment are actually the more motivated wage-employed who also manage to maintain social inclusion.
- Happy computer users: Older workers with good computer skills are more satisfied with their jobs – and plan to retire later – if they work in a position which requires the use of a computer. Presumably the use of a computer on the job combined with good ICT skills helps to increase the self-perceived quality of work and this reduce the intention to retire early.
- Incentives to early retirement create early retirement: Differences in welfare systems clearly affect the distribution and the age pattern of labour force participation and retirement. In countries where early retirement is allowed and/or is generous (typically Southern countries, but also Austria and France), we see a high prevalence of early retirees. As a result, there is a large unused labour capacity in countries such as Austria, Italy, and France, where many healthy individuals are not in the labour force. Similarly, institutional differences between countries affect individuals' pathways to retirement.
- Relatively low levels of private pension provision in Europe: Almost all senior citizens in Europe draw a public pension. More than half supplement this pension from additional sources of income in old age, such as private pensions. In countries such as Sweden or the Netherlands, almost two thirds of retirees have an additional occupational pension. However, in most countries occupational pensions account for a much smaller share of income than do public pensions. Even less provision is made privately via, for example, life insurance policies. Sweden ranks highest in this respect with almost 20 per cent of all the country's pensioners in receipt of such benefits. The European average, in contrast, is 10 per cent. Pension benefits are lowest among the low-skilled - particularly if people in this group take early retirement.
- Uptake of disability insurance is unrelated to health status: The prevalence of the receipt of work disability benefits during early retirement ages between 50 and 64 varies dramatically across SHARE countries, from 16 percent in Denmark to 3 percent in Greece. SHARE, which provides the first data that link these differences to internationally comparable health measures, reveals that the large variation in disability insurance across 11 European countries cannot be caused by differences in health.
- Agreeable work place conditions support later retirement: The perceived quality of employment during the pre-retirement years - for example, how much control we have over our work and how much of a match there is between effort and reward - varies considerably across the European countries surveyed, with a clear North-South gradient. Quality of employment is strongly associated with well-being: Lower quality of employment goes hand in hand with poor health and depression. SHARE also reveals significant cross-national variation in people's quality of life.
- Volunteering is frequent in some countries: Older Europeans use their time in many different ways and work for pay is not everything: Overall, 10 percent of the 65-74 age group does volunteer work, and in the Netherlands the percent is even higher-more than 25 percent. Then again, in other countries, like Spain and Greece, less than 4 percent report doing volunteer work in all age groups. Two thirds of respondents said that the reason for undertaking voluntary work was to do something useful in retirement. However, people's health is an important factor in this context, and senior citizens who are in poor health are less likely to engage in voluntary work than people of the same age who feel fit and healthy.
More SHARE Research Findings:
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New study on the effects of retiring during the economic crisis in Europe.
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