Working Beyond State Pension Age: The influence

Project: Research project (funded)Research

Project Details


Extending working life beyond state pension age is an important way to supplement income in later life. Research suggests that inequalities over the life course, especially those related to the gender division of labour, continue into old age to influence need, capacity, and desire to extend working life. But the picture is complicated, with evidence that income interacts with work-family life history to influence working beyond state pension age. The ESRC study examined:
•The relationship between individuals’ lifetime work and family history and working beyond state pension age
•How income interacts with work-family life history to influence the likelihood that an individual works beyond state pension age.

Using the first 15 waves of the British Household Panel Study, and the BHPS life history data files the study explored how work-family life history increases or decreases the likelihood of working beyond state pension age. It also examined how important work-family history was relative to income in influencing extending working life, and whether the impact of work-family history is different according to gender. The research will facilitate more effective policy with regard to shaping incentives for working beyond state pension age.

Key findings

The project demonstrated that work-history, regardless of income, is important as a (de)-motivator to extend paid work. Having a strong labour market attachment, particuarly late in life, enables extending beyond state pension age. Labour market dis-attachment leads to a double disadvantage - low pension income built up during their working life and low ability to work longer to make up for this. This reflects the cumulative disadvantage over the life course for certain groups.

Gender differences also exist in terms of how work-family life history impact upon working beyond state pension age. Work-family history is important for women, even after income is accounted for. Even women working many years in the labour market extend partly because many of the years are spent working part time. Remaining single after a divorce, especially with children, increases the likelihood of working longer. For men, work-family history has less of an impact, with marriage and full time emloyment reducing the chances of working longer. It appears men are protected by their breadwinning role. But there is also some evidence that men falling outside their 'breadwinning' role are penalised for it, with men working part-time having higher odds of extending than women working part time.

Until gender inequality in the labour market are addressed directly, women are likely to need to work beyond state pension age to make up for them.
AcronymThe impact of income and work-family life history
Effective start/end date1/05/0731/08/10




  • HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
  • LIfe history
  • Extendiing paid work
  • Gender
  • Ageing