Activity in the third age: examining the relationship between careers and retirement experiences

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This paper aims to enhance understanding of how career histories affect broader retirement experiences. Drawing on life course and resource-based perspectives, the study theorizes the mechanisms underlying the relationship between career trajectories, resource accumulation and retirement experiences. We utilise retrospective life course data and a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods to examine how the career histories of 50 older men and women are linked to their expectations and experiences of retirement. The approach enables the research focus to include older people’s long working lives prior to retirement. The results suggest that there is a strong relationship between career trajectory, resource accumulation and experiences of retirement. One implication is that differential access to resources over life courses significantly affects how people experience and adjust to retirement. In addition, some resources had a more significant impact on retirement outcomes than others, namely, financial resources, health and, in some cases, social networks. The analysis also highlights the complex and varied nature of retirement and adds to current debates around retirement and the boundaryless career.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-65
JournalJournal of Vocational Behaviour
Issue numberPart B
Early online date12 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


  • work history
  • resources
  • career
  • life course
  • aging
  • retirement


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