The changing nature of (un-)retirement in Germany: living conditions, activities and life phases of older adults in transition (2017)

in: BiB Working Paper, Volume 3-2017

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In an aging work society, the transition to retirement represents a crucial passage in status for older adults. The conditions and the forms of the age-related status transition have changed substantially in Germany over recent decades. Thus, in addition to "indirect" retirement paths from various forms of non-employment, there is an increasing tendency to continue paid work beyond the regular retirement age limit. Moreover, older adults volunteer in civil society and are engaged within the family after retirement. These activities, together with prolonged labor market participation, form a central dimension of old age potential that can be a societal as well as an individual benefit. The aim of this paper is to review the current state of research, provide an overview of basic concepts as well as to advance the discourse on the transition to retirement and the potential of older people in Germany. One focus is on the labor market participation of older adults, even beyond the legal retirement age limit. In addition, we emphasize the interaction between different productive activities with regard to complementary or substitute relationships. These considerations are united in the concept of unretirement, which complements the traditional concept of retirement. A modified Rubicon model of action is presented as a heuristic framework for further empirical research on the labor market participation of older adults.