Determinants of early withdrawal and of early withdrawal by reason of disability from the Irish labour force in the third age

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Title: Determinants of early withdrawal and of early withdrawal by reason of disability from the Irish labour force in the third age
Authors: Lawless, Martin
Advisor: Codd, Mary
Buggy, Conor
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Date: 2015
Abstract: III – Abstract: Determinants of early withdrawal and early withdrawal by reason of disability from the Irish labour force in the Third Age.Background. This study examines the relationship between early withdrawal and early withdrawal through disability from the Irish labour force in the Third Age. The relationship between unemployment or early retirement and ill health has been determined by a number of studies and, while unemployment through ill health or occupational disability may lead to early retirement, conversely disability or ill health may affect the choice of recruiters and hence the subsequent selection into or out of the workforce, (Bartley, 1994). It is recognized that there are a substantial number of people on the disability register who are genuinely disabled and this study disregards these claimants as far as is possible.One relevant study suggested that while health problems such as stress or mental disorders may predict the risk of exit from the labour force and subsequent long term unemployment or early retirement, it also pointed out that socio-demographic issues such as education, professional status, quality of life, perceptions of ageing and depression symptoms could modify the effect of health significantly (Leino-Arjas et al, 1999). A significant number of workers in Ireland leave the labour force early and this study looks at the causes and patterns of early withdrawal particularly that determined by or which has its genesis in disability or long-term illness. Although early retirement is generally regarded as voluntary withdrawal from the labour force, several studies have shown that health problems such as the presence of a chronic disorder contribute to early withdrawal (Cai et al, 2006; Monden 2005), depending on entitlement criteria and liberality of disability and retirement benefits (Stattin 2005). It is thus important to determine what links, if any, exist, between health and early exit from the labour force and whether they are similar across diverse routes of exit from the labour force and what the effects are of differing health determinants and socio-demographic features.Life expectancy is increasing in many countries throughout the industrialised world, which is resulting in an increase in the age of populations (Ilmarinen, 2007). However, the average amount of time people spend in paid work has decreased in most countries in Europe including Ireland despite a better health status, better living conditions and increased life expectancy. This inconsistency appears to be due, in part, to younger people delaying entering the labour market and more crucially, older workers exiting the labour market early in large numbers (Stattin, 2005). As a result many European countries and indeed, the European Union itself, are researching and developing policies to encourage older workers to stay active and remain in the labour pool by delaying retirement (Cai et al, 2006). A more comprehensive understanding of ageing in the workforce and the role of health in encouraging work or withdrawal from the labour force would clearly contribute to the success of these policies. Thus the primary objective of this study was to identify associations that might predict early withdrawal from the labour force using both hard data (disease risk factors, disease and activities of daily living) and measures of well-being data (quality of life, depression, ageing perceptions) variables.Aims. To identify and analyse potential impacts of socio-demographic factors, physical functioning, disease co-morbidities, well being and quality of life factors on decisions to retire early or retire early through disability in the 50-75 age cohort of the Irish Labour force.Methods. Analysis was undertaken of 5,818 respondents using The Irish Longitudinal Study of Ageing (TILDA). The groups of interest were those aged 50-75 who had not retired early (n=4640) and those who had retired early (n=1178). The early-retired sample (n=1,178) was dichotomised on disability (disabled, n=334, non-disabled, n=845). Examination of interviewer-recorded and clinically obtained information on background influences determining early retirement decisions included the following factors; age, gender, education, socio-economic background, chronic disease, cardiovascular risk factors and cardiovascular disease, activities of daily living, well-being, quality of life and associated variables. This study concentrates on those who stated they retired early though disability or long term illness in the 50-75 age cohort within the TILDA survey and disregards those with pre-existing disabilities or who retired early for other reasons.Results. The evolution of the sustainability of the cost to the Irish Exchequer is under examination as it now constitutes in excess of 2% of GDP with additional health costs and related forms of social protection raising this proportion of disability related benefits even further. The cost of lost tax revenue and lost production and the affect this has on the Irish economy remains unquantifiable, however, it could be assessed as being significant in overall GDP terms. Of added interest is the way disability claimant rates have increased as a proportion of the working age population and in many instances this is now being interpreted as an early retirement paradigm or a way to leave employment without the stigma of unemployment and is seen as a route into retirement. With more stringent unemployment benefit requirements and fewer early retirement schemes available within the private sector and none available in the public sector (Banks et al, 2010), disability benefits can represent an attractive and crucial pathway into early retirement. One notable contradiction emerging is that, as measures of self reported ill health and disability seem to be on the rise, it appears to be in contrast to reported increases in life expectancy.It was hypothesized that factors associated with early retirement and early retirement through disability could be identified. The null hypothesis was that these factors do not differ between those who retired early or did not retire and those with and without disability in the early-retired group. It was established that there were significant differences in relevant associated factors in disease co-morbidities, disease risk factors, physical functioning, quality of life, stress, depression indicators and well-being which lead to the null hypothesis being rejected.Conclusion. Among TILDA participants, educational attainment and previous employment appears to influence early retirement decisions regardless of disability. Disabled early retirees had higher recorded frequencies of cardiovascular diseases and non-cardiovascular chronic diseases as well as depression, stress and quality of life issues. Each of these remained independently significant in multivariate analysis. Differences between disabled and non-disabled groups showed significance across a number of factors in multivariate analysis, factor analysis and/or cluster analysis. The contribution of this work proposes a model set of possible associations predictors for which could assist in developing interventions with a view to prevention of early withdrawal from the Irish labour force.It also emerges that the increasing numbers on the disability claims register is more a result of those on the register staying longer rather than larger numbers of new claimants coming onto the register. What one needs to question is why the register is growing so consistently when the testing and assessment procedures were apparently taking significant numbers off the register each year.What effectively amounts to “hidden unemployment” is masking the real unemployment figure. If we eliminate those disabled claimants who are less than 30% disabled as an example we will add approximately 67.5% of the current 296,000 recipients of disability benefits or a further 199,800 claimants back on to the unemployment register and subsequently back into the labour pool. While this will make a difference in terms of the economy immediately by reducing the fiscal outflow, by shifting numbers from the disability rolls to the unemployment rolls, it will allow policy makers to see a more realistic labour pool figure and plan for anticipated labour shortages.Keywords: Early retirement, disability, socio-demographics, chronic disease, physical functioning, well-being, quality of life.
Type of material: Doctoral Thesis
Publisher: University College Dublin. School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science  
Qualification Name: Ph.D.
Copyright (published version): 2015 the author
Keywords: DisabilityEarly retirementIrelandThird Age
Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed
Appears in Collections:Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science Theses

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