Life after 50: Issues for policy and research

Edited by Donald Hirsch

People are living longer, yet increasingly are leaving working life well before the state retirement age of 60 for women and 65 for men.

 What implications does this have for their well-being in later life? Are the over-50s able to play a sufficiently active part in society? Are those who withdraw from work early sufficiently provided for financially in old age? This report launches a new Joseph Rowntree Foundation research programme, Transitions after 50. It collects together information on what is presently known about three aspects of this transition. First, older people’s opportunities at work and their fortunes in the labour market. Second, the effect of working patterns in later life on retirement income. And third, the ways in which people over 50 develop unpaid activities, such as volunteering and caring, beyond the context of paid work.

The Cabinet Office report Winning the generation game put these issues squarely in the realm of public policy. Yet relatively little is understood about how exactly people make transitions at the end of their working lives. This report sets out not only what we know so far, but also how knowledge can be strengthened. It is aimed primarily at the research community across the wide range of social disciplines with an interest in this field – including specialists in income, labour markets, community engagement, caring, ageing and gender issues.

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