Retirement: institutional pathways and individual trajectories in Britain and Germany

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

June 1, 2010


Since the 1970s people have retired increasingly early across advanced societies. Parallel to this trend, numerous institutional early retirement pathways evolved, such as bridge unemployment and pre-retirement schemes. This article compares retirement in Britain and Germany to show how individuals progress through these institutional retirement pathways. The analysis uses longitudinal data and recent innovations in sequence analysis to capture the sequential nature of retirement as a series of transitions over time. As expected, prominent institutional retirement pathways are mirrored in individual retirement trajectories. Beyond these expected patterns, there are pronounced regularities in individual retirement trajectories outside of explicit institutional pathways. The 'institution of the family' is an additional powerful force in structuring women's retirement. Access to advantageous institutional retirement pathways is stratified by gender, education, income, and health. The article concludes that specific population groups, particularly women, are systematically excluded from protective institutional early retirement pathways in Britain and Germany.

Published in

Sociological Research Online


Volume: 15 (2)



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