Chapter 18: Transitions to retirement

This chapter’s topic is the investigation into the transitions between the main employment period and the age of retirement. At the same time, the causes for the development of age transitions and their consequences will be discussed. The chapter describes empirically the structure of age transitions and of older people’s labour market participation by evaluating micro data records or aggregated data – depending on the question put.

Given the fact that the employment rate of older people in Germany has increased, but still has to be classified as rather low by international comparison, within the last years political interventions have limited the possibility of earlier retirement or made more difficult through reductions to pensions. The ‘ideal case’ of an employment (that is subject to social insurance contributions) up to the age of 65 with subsequent regular pension payments – towards which the German social model was oriented during the 1960s – has nevertheless become a rarity.

Amongst the older working population striving for labour participation, the chances for participating on the labour market are distributed unequally. Employment participation and employment in older age have to be investigated according to gender, qualification, religion and occupational group resp. branch of industry (over the course of time and in the study of cohorts). Which framework conditions lead to a premature exit from employment or to bridge phases like unemployment, partial retirement and eased access to benefits under §428 Social Code III? Do political interventions, which are intended to shorten the reception of benefits by older people, trigger a growing polarisation between secured and precarious transitions?

This labour market perspective is contrasted with the view from the other side, the entry into retirement. How do developments on the labour market (unemployment, atypical employment, structural change) and changes in pension law affect the entry into retirement? To what extent do health problems, which occur in working lives, aggravate employment up to old age (quality of work) and enforce early retirement? Which impact do the first vocational training and advanced vocational training (lifelong learning) have? Can one observe interactions and displacement effects between different pension schemes and alternative ‘bridges’ between employment and retirement?

In order to answer these questions, one needs macro data over time as well as analyses of individual transitions at the micro level – e.g. in order to trace dynamic courses and to typify stable and precarious ones.

Analysing the social situation of retired persons is another topic. Their possibilities to participate are essentially determined by the amount of benefits they can legally claim (risk of poverty in old age). What does the material situation of retired people look like – depending on employment biography and household constellations and taking into account the legal framework? The results of this analysis – especially regarding the family and household context – flow into the chapter Household, Family and social Ties.


Results (German)
Bieber, Ulrich (2009): Analyse der Erhebungen zur Alterssicherung in Deutschland. Strukturen des Einkommens im Alter. SOEB-Arbeitspapier 2009-3 PDF
Mika, Tatjana (2009): Prozessproduzierte Daten und Sondererhebungen der gesetzlichen Rentenversicherung. 1. Jahrgangsspezifisches Rentengeschehen. SOEB-Arbeitspapier 2009-2 PDF
Stegmann, Michael/Mika, Tatjana/Bieber, Ulrich (2009): Kurzgutachten zum Datenpotential der prozessproduzierten Daten des Forschungsdatenzentrums der Rentenversicherung und der Studie „Alterssicherung in Deutschland“ (ASID) zum Forschungsgebiet Biografien und Übergang in den Ruhestand. SOEB-Arbeitspapier 2009-1 PDF
Stegmann, Michael (2009): Übergang in Rente im Biografiekontext und Versicherungs- und Erwerbsbiografien im Ehepaarkontext. SOEB-Arbeitspapier 2009-4 PDF

Responsibility for this chapter

Internationales Institut für empirische Sozialökonomie (INIFES)