Emmy Noether Research Group

The independent junior research group, funded by the German Research Foundation (from 2010 until 2017), deals with employment beyond pension age and after the transition into retirement in Germany and the UK. This is done on an empirical basis, applying quantitative as well as qualitative methods. In addition to paid employment beyond pension age, the framing institutions and collective discourses around work, old age and old age provision are investigated as well.
from left to right.: Steffen Hagemann, Simone Scherger, Anna Hokema, Thomas Luxfrom left to right.: Steffen Hagemann, Simone Scherger, Anna Hokema, Thomas Lux

The independent junior research group Paid work beyond pension age in Germany and the UK, funded under the Emmy Noether Programme of the German Research Foundation, examines the employment beyond pension age empirically and comparing Germany and the UK. Prevalence, structures and conditions of this employment are investigated as well as the biographical experience and meaning of this work, and framing debates around old age, employment and pension provision. The research group is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) under the Emmy Noether Programme (from 2010 until 2017).

Until now, paid employment in retirement has been an atypical combination of work, payments from a pension (or several pensions) and old age. However, paid employment post retirement is becoming more frequent. In the first subproject of the group, quantitative analyses of secondary data serve to study the incidence and structures of employment beyond pension age. In this way, one can learn more about which individual socio-structural characteristics and which biographical constellations in the area of work and family lead to retirees engaging in paid work; moreover the effects of this employment on health, wellbeing and life satisfaction shall be studied. In the second subproject, problem-centred interview with pensioners in paid employment are conducted. Based on these interviews, the biographical meaning of paid employment for these pensioners is examined, and how they deal with institutional regulations.

The third subproject looks at welfare state traditions and institutional arrangements relating to employment in retirement, and on the collective discourses around the change of these arrangements. In these discourses, different collective and corporative actors debate employment in old age and future forms of retirement provision. These discourses are analysed based on expert interviews (with representatives from collective and corporative actors in both countries) and text documents (in particular position papers of the relevant actors), using qualitative methods. In these analyses, socially mediated ideas around old age, employment and pension provision take centre stage, notably the normative concepts used (for example justice in different variations) and attributions of (collective or individual) responsibility.

Against the background of changing demographics and related welfare reforms, studying paid employment post retirement provides a clearer understanding of the interplay between individual biographical action and welfare state institutions. The comparison between Germany and the UK sheds light on the influence of different institutional conditions and welfare state traditions, and the application of mixed methods facilitates a dialogue between structure oriented and action oriented perspectives.

Subprojects of the Emmy Noether Research Group

  • Head of project

    Simone Scherger

  • Subproject 1
    Paid work beyond pension age - incidence, structures, conditions and effects investigated by the quantitative analysis of secondary data
    Thomas Lux

  • Subproject 2
    Individual experience and biographical meaning of paid employment beyond pension age - examined by semi-structured interviews
    Anna Hokema

  • Subproject 3
    Discourses around work in old age and old age provision: normative reasoning and attributions of responsibility in welfare states
    Steffen Hagemann