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Table 3 Systematic mapping of included studies

From: Barriers and facilitators to extended working lives in Europe: a gender focus

Cluster Factor Evidence Study population Study outcome Gendered context
Health context Ill health as a barrier to extending working life (EWL) [33] UK Health was a key barrier to EWL. Mental health problems, arthritis and diabetes along with high blood pressure and angina were the key health problems in older workers. No gendered differences were discussed in respect of health as a barrier to EWL, except that the type of roles women and men tend to adopt differ.
[42] Austria, Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Spain, Italy, France, Denmark, Greece, Switzerland and The Netherlands Having one or more limitations regarding activities of daily living, in respect of physical health, predicted retirement. In the multivariate analyses, it was shown that men tended to retire later than women.
[40] Germany, UK and Japan There was a high incidence of retirement due to ill health in Germany. In Germany, it was found that involuntary retirement (including for ill health) was more frequent among men than women, but this was not found in the UK (or Japan). Overall, females were shown to retire earlier than men.
[38] Denmark Poor health reduced planned retirement age. No gender differences were reported in relation to this variable.
[30] UK Workplace stress and the negative effects on their health were cited as a key influence for with those who wished to retire as soon as possible. Gender was not associated with this particular finding.
[32] UK Ill health was seen as a key barrier to EWL. There were a disproportionate number of male older workers who experienced mental ill health, particularly stress. Stress was reported to relate to changes to job conditions within the workplace, and changes in the job market, such as commuting and target driven roles.
[31] UK Ill health was found to be a predictor of retirement. Specifically, older workers displaying depressive symptoms or mobility problems (leg pain in particular) were more likely to retire early. Gender was adjusted for and it was found that women were more likely to retire before men.
[28] Norway Retirement intentions were significantly related to retirement behaviour. Older workers with poor health often retire earlier than they prefer. Overall, amongt all groups (including those in good health), workers tended to retire earlier than they wish, as a result of fewer opportunities being available. Health promoting environments, which include training or adapting working conditions are encouraged. The main finding concerning gender was that gender differences in retirement patterns were small. However, when controlling for confounders, e.g. income, type of work and education, male workers tended to retire earlier than female workers.
[35] The Netherlands Good health was a predictor of EWL. No gender differences were reported.
The negative impact of work on health as a barrier to EWL [33] UK Manual work and caring roles carry particular health burdens in older workers. Males, particularly working class men, described physical impairments often linked to manual roles. Additionally, caring roles, which tend to be female dominated, were seen as a risk to health and well-being.
[41] Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland Ill Health is an obstacle to EWL in Western Europe. Routine service and manual workers were shown to be more likely to retire involuntarily due to ill health. A higher prevalence of involuntary retirement was found among men in intermediate occupations, as well as male skilled manual workers and farmers.
[37] Denmark When controlling for variables including age, health and socio-economic status, an increased hazard for disability pension was found for females only. Female shift workers had more chance of becoming recipients of disability pension after controlling for a number of variables including health and socio-economic status.
Positive health benefits of EWL [30] UK Remaining in work was reported to have positive health benefits, compared to retirement, which was considered unhealthy Gender was not associated with this particular finding.
[32] UK Good health and physical fitness were seen as facilitators to EWL. No gender-based findings in respect of health were discussed.
Subjective experience of health as a barrier to EWL: health pessimism [33] UK A number of factors including perceived job satisfaction, pressures from work, caring obligations, financial pressures affected the subjective experience of health. Those in lower socio-economic groups tended to show health pessimism, which predicted retirement. Women tended to adopt caring roles and additionally had more caring obligations outside of work than men.
Social factors Social and leisure activities as a driver or barrier to EWL [29] Norway Men whose hobbies included fishing and hunting retired early and women who took on volunteering roles were more likely to have a preference for EWL. Leisure activity (such as fishing and hunting) was associated with a preference for early retirement in men. Women with volunteering roles were more likely to extend their working lives.
[34] The Netherlands The desire to spend time away from work was cited as a factor pulling individuals towards retirement. Only 20% of the sample were women, so these findings disproportionately reflect the views of men.
Caring responsibilities as a barrier to EWL [42] Austria, Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Spain, Italy, France, Denmark, Greece, Switzerland and The Netherlands. Caring for a grandchild was a predictor of retirement. Although caring for a dependent in the household predicted EWL. There were no gender differences in the finding that caring for grandchildren had a positive effect on early retirement.
[32] UK Caring responsibilities were highlighted as a key barrier to work. No gender-based differences were discussed.
[34] The Netherlands Caring for others was highlighted as a key barrier to work. No gender-based differences were discussed: only 20% of the sample were women, so these findings disproportionately reflect the views of men.
Education and employment level as a barrier/facilitator to EWL [42] Austria, Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Spain, Italy, France, Denmark, Greece, Switzerland and The Netherlands Older workers with a higher education tend to work for longer. The relationship with education applied to both males and females, although men retired later than women.
[40] Germany, UK and Japan In Germany, those with lower educational levels were more likely to retire than those with a higher educational level. In Germany, it was found that involuntary retirement (including for ill health) was more frequent among men than women, but this was not found in the UK or Japan. Overall, females were shown to retire earlier than men. In UK, women retired more for personal reasons than men.
[38] Denmark Those with higher income, educational status and higher levels of vocational training were more likely to plan to EWL. No gender differences were observed with educational status, but women only showed an increase in retirement age with increasing vocational training.
[39] Germany Professional status and income as indicators of socio economic status were predictors of plans to EWL. Both income and professional status played a more significant role for women than for men. Women with high professional roles show greater chances of plans to EWL than men.
[32] UK Lack of educational qualifications prevented a number of participants from EWL by re-entering the job market. Many respondents regretted not achieving qualifications at an earlier age. Both genders discussed a lack of educational experience as a barrier to competing in the job market.
  [28] Norway Significant relationships were found between retirement intentions and retirement behaviour. Older workers with low education often retire earlier than they prefer. Lower educational level and blue collar workers were more likely to retire earlier than more highly education workers and white collar workers, possibly due to a lack of opportunity to remain in work. Few gender differences were found but when controlling for confounders male workers tended to exit the labour marker earlier than female workers.
Social class [41] Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland Social class was shown to exert a strong influence on retirement, whereby those in lower social classes were more prone to involuntary retirement. Gender differences in retirement behaviour appear to be largely driven by women’s lower class positions.
Partner status [39] Germany Married people are much less willing to EWL than unmarried people. The differences by gender are slight and statistically insignificant.
[29] Norway Single women showed a preference for retiring later than married women. This result applied to females only.
[31] UK Retirement of a partner, among other factors predicted retirement Female gender, low retirement wealth and retirement of a partner, among other factors predict retirement.
[35] The Netherlands Older workers who did not have a partner were more inclined to EWL than those who did. No gender differences were reported.
  Negative social norms that act as barriers to EWL and internal beliefs about ageing as a barrier to EWL [30] UK Participants in the study talked about the barriers they impose on themselves that act as a barrier to EWL, which were negatively affected by local and regional culture and pressure from retired friends. The normative belief ‘male breadwinner role’ (p. 503) is entrenched in expectations of men’s retirement choices, although women also stated they were more likely to continue working for social as well as financial reasons.
   [32] UK A theme generated from this study was ‘negative perceptions of self: self-fulfilling prophecies’ (p.91). Although some positive attitudes were noted about older workers, participants expressed ageist social norms that they held, which constrained their opportunities to EWL. Both men and women cited negative perceptions of self and ageist attitudes as barriers to EWL.
Workplace factors Workplace conflict and poor work mentality of colleagues as a barrier to EWL [34] The Netherlands Workplace conflict signalled early retirement. Poor work mentality of colleagues was also cited as a push factor for retirement. The data provided in the study in respect of conflict related to a female, although only 20% of the sample were women so these findings disproportionately reflect the views of men.
The social role of work a facilitator to EWL Volunteering role as a facilitator to EWL [30] UK Enjoyment of work in relation to being around good people was cited as a reason for continuing working. The social role is a particular facilitator to EWL in females (especially those in part-time work) in comparison to men.
[29] Norway Females who took on voluntary work showed a preference for retiring later. Women prefer different leisure activities such as volunteering, which signals a preference for EWL.
Lack of choice and poor quality jobs available [30] UK Participants cited concern about the choice and quality of jobs available to older people. Employers were seen to hold a stereotypical belief that older women preferred part time work.
High pressure/physically demanding jobs act as a barrier to EWL [38] Denmark Job demands lowered planned retirement age and satisfaction with work hours, and the opportunity to use skills increased preference for EWL. Men who have poor job security plan to retire around half a year earlier than those who do not and being able to organise their own work was important to men but not women. The job demands result applied to both men and women but 28% of women found their job demanding compared to just 18% of men. Poor job control and job security impacted negatively on men’s EWL only. Men are more influenced by the quality of job dimensions in their retirement planning.
[30] UK Manual work was seen to cause increasing deteriorations in performance with age. Older women in manual work were seen as been affected by deteriorations in performance more than men.
[34] The Netherlands High pressure work and physical demanding jobs were cited as push factor towards retirement because they reduce the ability of older workers to EWL. Only 20% of the sample were women, so these findings disproportionately reflect the views of men (in relation to high pressure work and physically demanding jobs and insufficient skill use).
[35] The Netherlands Increasing job pressures were associated with earlier planned retirement but not actual retirement age. No gender differences were reported.
Lack of recognition, insufficient use of knowledge, skills and experience at work as a barrier to EWL [30] UK The value of skills learnt by older workers was seen as largely ignored by employers. No gender-based differences were reported in respect of this finding.
[32] UK Insufficient use of knowledge and an unwillingness to train older workers to learn new skills was expressed by older workers. Both men and women experienced poor quality jobs.
[36] Denmark Perceived ‘ageism’, ‘lack of development possibilities’ and ‘lack of recognition’ were all significant for men but not for women (p. 441). Lack of recognition as a cofounder was significant in men only.
Recognition, sufficient use of knowledge, skills and experience at work as a facilitator to EWL [38] Denmark The opportunity to use skills increased planned retirement age. This result applied to both men and women.
Organisational changes as a barrier to EWL [32] UK Changes in the workplace caused participants to feel resistance and was an obstacle for older workers. No gender differences were reported.
  [34] The Netherlands Organisational changes including restructuring and continuous changes in the way the job is done were found to push older workers towards early retirement. Only 20% of the sample were women, so these findings disproportionately reflect the views of men.
Rewarding work: making a positive contribution at work as a facilitator to EWL [32] UK Making a positive contribution to the organisation was seen by many respondents as a driver for continuing working. No gender differences were found in relation to this particular response, although women talked about social drivers to extending working life whereas men did not.
[35] The Netherlands Higher levels of challenge at work were associated with an increasing chance of EWL. No gender differences were reported.
Negative or ageist attitudes act as a barrier to EWL [30] UK Ageism in the workplace was identified by participants in relation being seen as an ‘easy target’ (p.500) in relation to redundancy and, generally, a lack of equal opportunity. There were no particular differences found in relation to ageism.
[32] UK Although older workers were shown to have positive views of themselves as ‘fitter, healthier, more capable and sustainable’ (p.92), this was incongruent with others’ views, which acted as a barrier to EWL. No gendered differences were found in respect of ageist attitudes.
[36] Denmark Perceived ‘ageism’ and ‘lack of recognition’ were all significant for men but not for women (p. 441). Ageism in particular showed stronger associations in men with plans for retiring than females. Women were shown to retire earlier than males overall.
[35] The Netherlands Workplace norms and supervisors’ attitudes shape older workers’ retirement intentions. No gender differences were reported.
Support from management to EWL [35] The Netherlands Perceived support from management was positively associated with planned retirement age. No gender differences were reported.
Flexible conditions as a facilitator to EWL [39] Germany Older workers had a preference for flexible working conditions such as reduced hours, working from home, control over hours as a facilitator to planned EWL. No gender differences were cited for flexible working conditions.
Working hours satisfaction as a facilitator to EWL [38] Denmark Increasing working hours and working hours satisfaction increases planned retirement age. The number of working hours increases retirement age for men, but there was no significant difference between men and women.
Workplace size: smaller organisations are perceived as having more flexibility and choice to EWL [40] Germany, UK and Japan Those in smaller organisations have more choice and more likely to EWL, although they tend to involuntary exit for reasons of ill health. Organisation size impacted on both genders.
[30] UK Larger organisations were viewed as being less willing to promote older workers. Both men and women talked about workplace size.
[39] Germany The smaller the organisation the more likely participants were willing continue employment post retirement age. No gender differences were cited in respect of the organisation size.
  Lack of training and opportunities, development possibilities and career progression as a barrier to EWL [30] UK Lack of development opportunities were cited by participants as a key barrier to EWL. There was a stereotypical belief from employers that older women preferred part-time work.
  [32] UK Many participants felt that they lacked the skills needed to compete in the labour market, specifically IT skills. Both males and females discussed a lack of development opportunities.
  [36] Denmark ‘Lack of development possibilities’. Lack of development possibilities acts as a barrier to EWL in men only.
  [35] The Netherlands Older workers who perceived more possible growth opportunities at baseline turned out to retire later than those who did not. No gender differences were reported in respect of this finding.
  Workability: balancing the interplay between resources and demands as a facilitator to EWL [36] Denmark Poor workability was a strong predictor of retirement for both men and women. Poor workability predicted retirement in both genders.
Financial and pension arrangement Financial disincentives exist for employers to recruit older workers [32] UK Almost a quarter of participants put forward financial disincentives for employers to employ older workers, such as training costs and the need for costlier flexible hours with older workers. Both genders talked about financial disincentives that exist for employers to recruit older workers.
  Finance as the main driver to continuing work and/or to supplement pension [40] Germany, UK and Japan Social welfare has an impact on choice in respect of retirement when on a low income. Those with low education (across both genders) are disadvantaged in that they have to continue working for financial reasons. There were no gendered differences to this finding.
  [30] UK For many respondents, the main driver to EWL was financial, reflecting a number of personal and family needs. Both genders experience finance as a driver to continuing work.
   [39] Germany Willingness to EWL increases with lower monthly net household income. Women with low household incomes show greater chances of plans to EWL than men.
  Pension wealth is a predictor of retirement [38] Denmark Pension wealth was a predictor of earlier preferred retirement age in men. Earnings were more important in predicting men’s than women’s retirement preference. A 10% income rise increased age of planned retirement by 0.331 years for men but only 0.044 years for women.
   [31] UK Individual finance, specifically pension wealth was a key driver of early retirement. Gender was controlled for and women were more likely to exit the labour market than men.
  Financial opportunity to retire a push factor into retirement [42] Austria, Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Spain, Italy, France, Denmark, Greece, Switzerland and The Netherlands High tax on continued work was a push factor in to retirement. There were no gender differences in respect of this finding, although women tended to retire earlier than men.
   [34] The Netherlands The financial incentive to retire played an important role in retiring for all of the participants. Only 20% of the sample were women, so these findings disproportionately reflect the views of men.