Article i 'Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv' no. 3 2002, page 63-75.
English resume

The Gold Mine that Disappeared

Christian Albrekt Larsen

This article deals with early retirement among Danish long-term unemployed in the period from 1994 to 1999. Based on the inflow to the early retirement schemes, the common perception has been that schemes that were (too) generous 'pulled' the old groups out of the labour market. However, by means of a panel study (first round 1994, second round 1999), this article shows that the older groups to a very large extent felt that they were 'pushed' out of the labour market.

Furthermore, the survey answers indicate that age in itself seems to be a very decisive barrier, whereas supply problems such as education, economic incentives etc. seem less important. Theoretically, the article explains these findings as the result of the screening procedures conducted by firms. Thus in a situation with rather high employment, the firms will have to screen the applicants in one way or another, and age seems to play a very significant role in this screening procedure. To substantiate this conclusion, one has to make studies of hiring procedures on company level. It is not done in this study, which is solely based on survey answers from long-term unemployed. However, the article concludes that early retirement schemes and introduction of new early retirement schemes is (of course) necessary but not sufficient as a means of explaining the decision of early retirement among the old unemployed.

Finally, the article shows that early retirement does indeed contribute to increase well-being among the interviewed. However, the data also show that returning to the labour market increases well-being even more. One might say that early retirement is good (compared to unemployment), but work is even better.

Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv

(Journal for Working Life)




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