PENSARE : Pénibilité du travail, santé et retraite
28 novembre 2008









Work, age and retirement intention among nurses in Europe

Hans Martin Hasselhorn, Professor at the University of Wuppertal, Germany

In times of demographic ageing and increasing need for nursing care the active nursing profession is growing older in many European countries. The European NEXT-Study has investigated work, health and attitudes of more than 56.000 nurses in 11 European countries between 2002 and 2005. This presentation focuses on the investigation of underlying causes for the nurses' intent to leave the profession in Belgium, Germany, Finland, France, England, Italy, Netherlands, Poland and Slovakia (n=26,263 female registered nurses). In almost all countries investigated, three main factors are highly associated with the nurses' intent to leave the profession: ‘professional opportunities', ‘work organisational factors' and ‘health'. In most countries, older nurses considered leaving the profession more frequently than younger nurses. Here, health was more strongly associated with the consideration of leaving nursing than among younger nurses. In contrast to younger nurses who wanted to change profession, older nurses rather wanted to leave their profession. More than half of all nurses with low health wanted to remain in the profession. This group reported rather positive psychosocial working conditions – but also the highest fear for unemployment. Conclusions: The findings indicate that ‘the nurse with low health' is reality in many health care settings. Both positive supporting working conditions but also lack of occupational alternatives and fear of unemployment may contribute to this. Current economic, political and demographic trends implicate that the number of older active nurses with low health will increase. Occupational health surveillance will be challenged by this. But NEXT findings implicate that prevention also will have to regard work organisational factors if the aim is to sustain nurses' health and to enable nurses to remain healthy in their profession until retirement age. Acknowledgement NEXT was financed by the European Union (QLK6-CT-2001-00475). The contribution of Dr. Madeleine Estryn Behar (head French NEXT / PRESST) shall be acknowledged here. For more coworkers and more results see

State of health and working conditions: Factors that explain the decision of Europeans to retire

Pascale Lengagne (Irdes), Thierry Debrand (Irdes)

The aim of this research is to grasp the complex relations between the type of work, the working conditions and the state of health of senior Europeans. We look first of all at the special links between the working conditions and the state of health. We then show the impact of these two decisive factors on the intentions to retire. We use the data obtained in the SHARE 2004 survey. Working conditions have evolved rapidly over recent decades in the developed countries. This evolution has been accompanied by the appearance of new forms of work organisation that increase stress and create health risks. In a context of ageing populations, these problems are particularly worrying in terms of health, employment and the financing of pensions. This study examines the links between the organisation of work and the health of senior employees. We show that several factors linked to the organisation of work – such as the strong psychological demand made, the lack of decision-making latitude, the unsatisfying recompense received for work, the absence of support at work and job insecurity – are correlated to the state of health of senior employees. Hence, the organisation of work as well as health are important factors in the decision of senior employees to retire. We then analyse the effect of the state of health and work satisfaction on the preferences expressed for the retirement age in 10 European countries. The preferences concerning the retirement age are measured by the probability of a positive answer to a question on the desire to retire as quickly as possible. We examine the roles played by health and working conditions to explain both the differences of preference at individual level and the differences of preference between the countries. At individual level, the findings conform to expectations, but only make a slight contribution to explaining the average differences found between countries. With an identical state of health and working conditions, we observe a north-south gradient in the desire to take early retirement which is close to the overall effect. These results hold up when checked against indicators of institutional context (generosity of the pension systems) and when taking into account the selection bias linked to the fact that the question concerns only individuals still working.

The decision of private sector employees to retire: An analysis based on the SVP50 survey and Cnav data

Samia Benallah (CEE)

The purpose of this paper is to analyse the role that the working conditions and the state of health may play in the decision of private sector employees to retire. Our approach is twofold. Firstly, we examine the stated preferences of employees in terms of retirement based on the subjective data of the survey on Health and Professional Life after 50 (SVP50). This survey questioned employees on their retirement intentions. Secondly, we analyse their stated preferences by mobilising objective data obtained from the pension payment decisions of the Caisse nationale d'assurance-vieillesse (Cnav). These data will enable us to study the individual behaviours effectively observed. We analyse three dimensions likely to influence not only the probability of retiring from the age of 60 but also the probability of retiring before being entitled to the full rate: the pension entitlements, the state of health and the characteristics of the work. We show that these three dimensions have an overall influence on retirement decisions in the usual sense, whatever approach is adopted. Thus, a poor state of health and/or difficult working conditions increase the probability of retiring from 60 years of age and of opting for a reduced pension. In contrast, strong financial incentives to put back the retirement age and/or a low pension rate do not play a positive role in these two probabilities. Finally, our results reveal a consistency between the intentions to retire and the behaviours actually observed.

How to account for differences in healthy life expectancy?

Jean-Marie Robine (Inserm), Emmanuelle Cambois (Ined)

The status of healthy life expectancy is changing, from the research subject it has been for the past twenty years to a major indicator of the state of health of populations both in Europe, where it is referred to as Healthy Life Years (HLY), and in the United States in the framework of the federal Healthy People 2010 strategy. But there is more to it than that. Important differences in healthy life expectancy have been noted between neighbouring countries, between the social categories and between the sexes. In the first case, a very common explanation is to point to cultural differences in the perception and the reporting of states of health. In the second case, the differences in life expectancy are systematically increased when one examines the healthy life expectancies. In the third case it is the opposite: the differences in life expectancy between the sexes are systematically reduced when one examines their expectancy of healthy life and are even sometimes inverted. Contrary to national comparisons, arguments of a cultural nature are never put forward to explain the differences between the social categories or between the sexes. Little if any research has examined these differences as a whole. That is the subject of this paper: How to account for the differences in healthy life expectancy?

Working conditions and age structures, a statistical approach in the European Union

Serge Volkoff (CEE)

Numerous studies in industrial psychology, in ergonomics, and more recently in work demographics have shown the selective effect of certain characteristics of work on the appointment of ageing employees. The usual aspects highlighted are the changing working hours, the physical discomfort (postural, particularly), the situations of intense temporal pressure and the repetition of urgent deadlines, as well as the accelerated pace of changes in techniques and organisations. In this paper, we propose first of all to review these general findings and indicate how they echo our knowledge of how people age in relation to their work. We will then sum up the findings of the surveys of the Dublin-based European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, examining the results concerning the European Union as a whole and then the differences between countries. The objective will be to examine if the selective mechanisms evoked are still visible in the most recent results, and to see if the differences between the working conditions of different countries (as brought out in the survey), for both the ageing population and/or all the population, are statistically consistent with the employment rate of seniors in each country.

The employment of senior citizens: the occupation dynamic and health problems

Marc-Antoine Estrade (Centre d'analyse stratégique)

Most members of the working population in employment are not in a position to choose when they leave their job at the end of their career, and more than 40% of them leave before the official retirement age. However, this situation varies considerably from one occupation to another depending on whether the employment dynamic is strong or declining, and on whether or not senior citizens are able to continue working, particularly from the point of view of health problems. By combining these criteria with the actual job-leaving age, we may distinguish three major configurations for the employment of senior citizens per occupation. The first configuration comprises those occupations where employment is on the decline (unskilled industrial workers, secretaries): many people leave their jobs in advance and in many cases senior citizens find themselves unemployed with exemption from seeking employment. The second configuration includes the most qualified occupations where labour demand is high: people usually move directly from employment to retirement (managerial staff in the tertiary section, research personnel), but early retirement has long constituted a way of managing the end of careers (employees and technicians working in the banking and insurance sectors). The last configuration concerns occupations where employment is on the increase, but where the arduousness or physical strain associated with the occupation often leads to employees leaving early for health reasons (nursing auxiliaries, skilled building workers, etc.).

Work strenuousness, employment, pensions: some lessons from collective agreements in France

Annie Jolivet (Ires)

Over recent years, collective negotiation has taken on special importance in the management of age in general and/or in the management of employees approaching retirement. The law on pension reform of 21 August 2003, the national interprofessional agreement of 20 September 2003, the law of 4 May 2004 on lifelong education and the law on social modernisation of January 2005 successively opened up fields of negotiation. The result is an overlapping of negotiation themes. Drawing on a certain number of accessible branch and company agreements, we look into the negotiation themes chosen, the impact of negotiation and the real evolution of practices. We take a close look in particular at the theme of work strenuousness which has appeared in several agreements despite (or because of) the stagnation of the interprofessional negotiations.