People more willing to work until retirement age

Willingness to work until retirement age is increasing in the Netherlands: from 21% in 2005 to 26% in 2006. People’s willingness and ability to work until retirement are related to demographics, current health and work characteristics. Significant sectoral differences emerge, and the gap between being willing and being able varies considerably. This gap constitutes the scope for increasing the labour force by encouraging employees who can to stay in work.

The 2006 National Survey on Working Conditions (Nationale Enquête Arbeidsomstandigheden, NEA) indicates that an increasing proportion of employees are willing to keep on working until retirement age. This increase of almost six percentage points in employees who state their willingness to continue working until 65 years is found over a period of only one year, from 21% of employees in 2005 to 26.5% of employees in 2006.

Gap between those willing and those able to stay in work

The proportion of employees who report that they are able to keep on working until 65 years is somewhat larger, at about 40%, than that of employees who are willing to do so. The gap between the percentage of employees who are willing to work until 65 years and those who are able to do so may be interpreted as the scope for a further increase in the labour force by encouraging employees to continue working until the age of 65. The size of this gap appears to vary considerably by sector of economic activity (see Figure).

Employees willing to work until 65 years and those able to do so, by sector (%)

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Source: NEA 2006

Employees willing to work until 65 years and able to do so, by sector (%)

In sectors like construction, as well as transport and manufacturing, employees are rather unwilling and unable to keep on working until the age of 65. In healthcare and agriculture, the gap between the proportion of workers who are willing and those who are able to continue working is relatively small. However, in sectors like financial services and public administration, this gap is large: a high proportion of employees indicate that they are able to work until 65 years, but relatively few state that they are willing to do so. Therefore, these sectors in particular have scope for increased employability.

In the hotels and restaurants sector, employees are willing to keep on working until retirement age, but a lower proportion indicate that they are able to do so. The latter picture may partly be due to the fact that a large proportion of employees in this sector – and particularly the younger employees – do not know yet whether they are willing or able to continue working until the age of 65. It is worth noting that this sector employs a large proportion of young workers.

Motivation factors

Regression analyses were performed in order to gain more insight into employees’ motivation in this regard. The analysis sought to identify the main determinants of willingness and ability to work until 65 years by demographic factors, health indicators and work characteristics (see Table and also NL0607NU06).

Determinants of willingness and ability to continue working until 65 years
This table shows significant results from multivariate logistic regressions of demographics, health and work characteristics as predictors of willingness and ability to continue working until 65 years of age.
Determinant Willingness to work until 65 years Ability to work until 65 years
Demographics    
Sex n.s. n.s.
Education Highest educational level most willing Highest educational level most able
Migrant employee More willing than Dutch national employee n.s.
Married, living with partner More willing than single employee n.s.
With children living at home More willing than employee with no children/no children living at home More able than employee with no children/no children living at home
Health    
Health Good health: More willing Good health: More able
Fatigue Less fatigue: More willing Less fatigue: More able
Work characteristics    
Employment contract Employee on temporary contract less willing n.s.
Number of working hours > 32 hours/day less willing n.s.
Shift work n.s. Shift work: Less able
Working in industry Less willing Less able
Administrative work n.s. More able
Service jobs n.s. Less able
Healthcare n.s. Less able
Education n.s. Less able
Professional n.s. More able
Agricultural n.s. Less able
Job demands High: Less willing High: Less able
Autonomy High: More willing High: More able
Emotional load n.s. High: Less able
Physically heavy work n.s. High: Less able
Quality of employment conditions, such as pay High: More willing High: More able

Note: n.s. = not significant.

Source: NEA 2005

Based on the strength of the significant coefficients, it is concluded that willingness and ability to work until retirement age are related to good health, a high level of education, a high level of job autonomy, good employment conditions and having children living at home. They are hampered by high levels of work pressure and fatigue, and working in industry. These determinants of willingness in particular can be considered as the motivating factors to actually keep on working until 65 years of age.

Karin Jettinghoff and Irene Houtman, TNO Work and Employment

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