Older age and ill-health: links to work and worklessness

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

June 1, 2013


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide insights on the relationship between health and employment in older age.
Design/methodology/approach – Qualitative methods are used with some additional quantitative analysis to explore emergent themes. The qualitative analysis is based on interviews with 56 men and women between the ages of 50 and 68. This part of the study uses the respondents’ own words to explain how physical and mental ill-health has impacted on labour market participation and vice versa. The quantitative analysis uses data from the British Household Panel Study and multivariate techniques.
Findings – The research highlights the complexity, individuality and two-way causality underlying the relationships between health, work and worklessness in older age. The analysis also suggests that type of job and workplace conditions matter. The negative impact of the onset of ill-health on employment participation only appears to be accentuated by age for women.
Research limitations/implications – The two data sets are not directly comparable.
Social implications – Planned rises in the age at which state pensions are payable need to be accompanied by policies that improve the health of older people and changes in workplace practices that facilitate longer working lives.
Originality/value – The paper has a specific focus on the relationship between ill-health and employment in older age; uses qualitative methods to draw out the main issues and quantitative analysis to draw additional insights and make some comparisons with younger cohorts.

Published in

International Journal of Workplace Health Management

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 6 , p.54 -65







Not held in Research Library - bibliographic reference only



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