Employment Exits Near Retirement Age: An Agency-analysis

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Population aging has prompted international governing bodies to recommend extending work careers and postponing retirement age. Retirement decisions cannot be fully reduced to either structural influences or individual agency. Older workers may face several limiting factors when continuing their careers beyond the official retirement age, including internalized attitudes towards aging at work. Our aim is to develop agency analysis that involves both structural and individual components to fully illustrate the heterogeneity of older workers and their retirement decisions. By studying qualitative interview data via thematic content analysis and a modality-based agency framework, we found that agency manifests in various different ways in older employees’ work exit accounts and that the relationship between individual agency and structures is complex. We conclude that agency analysis of aging employees offers insights into the complexity of the retirement process and may thus inform us about how to help extend work careers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-83
Number of pages21
JournalNordic Journal of Working Life Studies
Issue number1
Early online date2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Agency
  • aging workers
  • heterogeneity
  • modality-based agency model
  • retirement

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1


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