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May 2012, Vol. 135, No. 5
Older workers and short-term jobs: patterns and determinants
Kevin E. Cahill, Michael D. Giandrea, and Joseph F. Quinn
Kevin E. Cahill is a research economist at the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA; Joseph F. Quinn is the James P. McIntyre Professor of Economics in the Department of Economics at Boston College and is also affiliated with the Sloan Center on Aging & Work; Michael D. Giandrea is a research economist in the Office of Productivity and Technology, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Washington, DC. Email: email@example.com. All views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation supported this research through a grant to the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College.
The retirement patterns of career workers have been studied extensively. One of the main findings of this literature is that a majority of older Americans with career jobs make at least one job change prior to leaving the labor force; only a minority leave a career job and the labor force simultaneously.1 Kevin Cahill, Michael Giandrea, and Joseph Quinn found that 60 percent of older workers who left full-time career employment moved to short-duration or parttime employment (known as bridge jobs) before exiting the labor force.2 In another paper, these authors found that a substantial minority (approximately 10 percent) of individuals with wage-and-salary career jobs move into self-employment later in life.3 Likewise, evidence suggests that many workers (approximately 15 percent) with career jobs reenter the labor force after "retiring," that these reentry decisions are often voluntary, and that they are frequently anticipated prior to the workers’ leaving career employment.4 Collectively, these findings suggest that many career workers change jobs later in life and exit the labor force gradually.
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1 See Joseph F. Quinn, "Retirement Patterns and Bridge Jobs in the 1990s," EBRI Issue Brief No. 206 (Washington, DC, Employee Benefit Research Institute, February 1999), http://www.ebri.org/publications/ib/index.cfm?fa=ibDisp&content_id=119 ; Joseph F. Quinn, Kevin E. Cahill, and Michael D. Giandrea, "Early Retirement: The Dawn of a New Era?" TIAA-CREF Institute Policy Brief (New York, TIAA-CREF Institute, July 2011), http://www.tiaa-cref.org/institute/research/briefs/pb_earlyretirement0711.html ; Michael D. Giandrea, Kevin E. Cahill, and Joseph F. Quinn, "Bridge Jobs: A Comparison Across Cohorts," Research on Aging, September 2009, pp. 549-576; and Christopher J. Ruhm, "Bridge Jobs and Partial Retirement," Journal of Labor Economics, October 1990, pp. 482-501.
2 See Kevin E. Cahill, Michael D. Giandrea, and Joseph F. Quinn, "Retirement Patterns from Career Employment," The Gerontologist, August 2006, pp. 514-523.
3 See Michael D. Giandrea, Kevin E. Cahill, and Joseph F. Quinn, "Self-Employment Transitions among Older American Workers with Career Jobs," Working Paper Series WP-418 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 2008), http://www.bls.gov/osmr/abstract/ec/ec080040.htm.
4 See Nicole Maestas, "Back to Work: Expectations and Realizations of Work after Retirement," Journal of Human Resources, summer 2010, pp. 719-748; and Kevin E. Cahill, Michael D. Giandrea, and Joseph F. Quinn, "Reentering the Labor Force after Retirement," Monthly Labor Review, June 2011, pp. 34-42, http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2011/06/art2full.pdf.
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