Work-Life Balance and Labor Force Attachment at Older Ages

Abstract

We use data from the Health and Retirement Study to examine the role of work-life balance as a non-monetary determinant of retirement transitions, conditional on job attributes such as hours of work, compensation, and benefits. We rely on self-reported measures of work-life conflict to proxy for low levels of work-life balance. We show that high levels of work-life conflict are significantly associated with subsequent reductions in labor supply for workers aged 51 to 79, and document heterogeneity by gender and employment status. Moreover, work-life conflict moderates labor supply responses to spousal health shocks. Workers who report higher levels of work-life conflict are significantly more likely to reduce their labor supply in the two years following a spouse’s health shock, and this effect is once more heterogeneous. The moderating effect of work-life conflict is stronger for women than men and, among female workers, stronger for those employed part-time at baseline.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

Notes

  1. 1.

    See Anderson et al. (2002), Aryee et al. (1998), Batt and Valcour (2003), Bianchi and Milkie (2010), Guest (2002), and Misra et al. (2011), among others. See also Hegewisch and Gornick (2011) for a comprehensive review of the literature linking workplace family-friendly practices and female labor supply.

  2. 2.

    We cannot study transitions from retirement or unemployment/not in the labor force back into work because work-life balance measures are only available for those currently employed.

  3. 3.

    The results of these regressions are available upon request.

  4. 4.

    Our results do not change when we exclude psychological problems from this definition.

  5. 5.

    We have also experimented with variables measuring accomplishment and sense of direction in life. Adding these as controls in our regressions does not affect the results.

  6. 6.

    The latter also captures reaching the Social Security normal retirement age. For individuals born in 1937 or earlier, this is 65, but it is gradually increased, reaching 67 for individuals born in 1960 or later. For most individuals in our sample, it is between 65 and 66 and thus the 65 dummy correlates very highly with the normal retirement age dummy, and including both in the model is not practical.

  7. 7.

    As a robustness check, Tables 11 and 13 in the Appendix show marginal effects of work-life conflict for male and female workers, respectively, estimated from regressions using more parsimonious sets of controls (basic demographics and time fixed effects in specification I, and the latter plus additional demographics, health and cognition, as well as household wealth in specification II). These are qualitatively and quantitatively very similar to those from the main specification, which includes additional controls for work-related monetary incentives such as public/private pension arrangements and public/private health insurance.

  8. 8.

    Tables 14 and 15 in the Appendix show estimated coefficients from the specification in the third panel of Table 7, which controls for health transitions, individual traits, and life-to-work conflict. Estimates from specifications including only health transitions (first panel) and health transitions plus personality traits (second panel) are very similar and available upon request.

References

  1. Anderson SE, Coffey BS, Byerly RT (2002) Formal organizational initiatives and informal workplace practices: Links to work-life conflict and job-related outcomes. J Manag 28:787–810

    Google Scholar 

  2. Angrisani M, Kapteyn A, Meijer E (2015) Nonmonetary job characteristics and employment transitions at older ages. Working Paper WP 2015-326. University of Michigan Retirement Research Center, Ann Arbor

    Google Scholar 

  3. Angrisani M, Hurd MD, Meijer E, Parker AM, Rohwedder S (2017) Personality and employment transitions at older ages: Direct and indirect effects through non-monetary job characteristics. LABOUR 31:127–152

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Aryee S, Luk V, Stone R (1998) Family-responsive variables and retention-relevant outcomes among employed parents. Human Relations 51:73–87

    Google Scholar 

  5. Batt R, Valcour PM (2003) Human resources practices as predictors of work-life outcomes and employee turnover. Industrial Relations 42:189–220

    Google Scholar 

  6. Bianchi SM, Milkie MA (2010) Work and family research in the first decade of the 21st century. J Marriage Fam 72:705–725

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Blau D, Goodstein RM (2010) Can Social Security explain trends in labor force participation of older men in the United States? J Hum Resour 45:328–363

    Google Scholar 

  8. Bugliari D, Campbell N, Chan C, Hayden O, Hayes J, Hurd M, Karabatakis A, Main R, Mallett J, McCullough C, Meijer E, Moldoff M, Pantoja P, Rohwedder S, Clair PSt (2019) RAND HRS Longitudinal File 2016 (V1) Documentation. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation. http://hrsonline.isr.umich.edu/modules/meta/rand/index.html

  9. Chan S, Stevens AH (2008) Is retirement being remade? Developments in labor market patterns at older ages. In: Ameriks J, Mitchell OS (eds) Recalibrating Retirement Spending and Saving. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 13–28

  10. Clark AE, Oswald AJ (1996) Satisfaction and comparison income. J Public Econ 61:359–381

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Coile CC (2004) Health shocks and couples’ labor supply decisions. Working Paper 10810. National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  12. Currie J, Madrian BC (1999) Health, health insurance and the labor market. In: Ashenfelter O, Card D (eds) Handbook of Labor Economics, vol 3. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 3309–3407

  13. Flabbi L, Moro A (2012) The effect of job flexibility on female labor market outcomes: Estimates from a search and bargaining model. J Econ 168:81–95

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. French E (2005) The effects of health, wealth, and wages on labour supply and retirement behaviour. Rev Econ Stud 72:395–427

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. French E, Jones JB (2011) The effects of health insurance and self-insurance on retirement behavior. Econometrica 79:693–732

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Gardiner J, Stuart M, Forde C, Greenwood I, MacKenzie R, Perrett R (2007) Work life balance and older workers: Employees’ perspectives on retirement transitions following redundancy. Int J Hum Resour Manag 18:476–489

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Goda GS, Jones D, Manchester CF (2017) Retirement plan type and employee mobility: The role of selection. J Hum Resour 52:654–679

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Gruber J, Wise DA (eds) (2004) Social security programs and retirement around the world: Micro-Estimation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago

  19. Guest DE (2002) Perspectives on the study of work-life balance. Soc Sci Inf 41:255–279

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Hegewisch A, Gornick JC (2011) The impact of work-family policies on women’s employment: a review of research from oecd countries. Community, Work & Family 14:119–138

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Lévy-Garboua L, Montmarquette C, Simonnet V (2007) Job satisfaction and quits. Labour Econ 14:251–268

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Lewis J (2008) Work-family balance policies: Issues and development in the UK 1997–2005 in comparative perspective. In: Scott J., Dex S., Joshi H. (eds) Women and Employment: Changing Lives and New Challenges. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, pp 268–288

  23. Lumsdaine RL, Mitchell OS (1999) New developments in the economic analysis of retirement. In: Ashenfelter O., Card D. (eds) Handbook of Labor Economics, vol 3. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 3261–3307

  24. Maestas N (2010) Back to work: Expectations and realizations of work after retirement. J Hum Resour 45:718–748

    Google Scholar 

  25. McClellan MB (1998) Health events, health insurance, and labor supply: evidence from the health and retirement survey. In: Wise DA (ed) Frontiers in the Economics of Aging. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 301–350

  26. McGeary KA (2009) How do health shocks influence retirement decisions? Rev Econ Househ 7:307–321

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Misra J, Budig M, Boeckmann I (2011) Work-family policies and the effects of children on women’s employment hours and wages. Community, Work & Family 14:139–157

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Raymo JM, Sweeney MM (2006) Work-family conflict and retirement preferences. J Gerontol Ser B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 61:S161–S169

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Smith JP (2005) Consequences and predictors of new health events. In: Wise DA (ed) Analyses in the Economics of Aging. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 213–237

  30. Sullivan P, To T (2014) Search and nonwage job characteristics. J Hum Resour 49:472–507

    Google Scholar 

  31. Wise DA (2010) Facilitating longer working lives: International evidence on why and how. Demography 47:S131–S149

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

This research was funded by the U.S. Social Security Administration through the University of Michigan Retirement Research Center (UM17-11). SSA and MRRC had no role in study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the article for publication. There are no other interested parties and the authors have no further disclosures about this research.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Marco Angrisani.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interests

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Appendix

Appendix

Table 10 Full set of average marginal effects for Table 5 (male workers)
Table 11 Average marginal effects of WLC on employment transitions (male workers): Parsimonious sets of controls
Table 12 Full set of average marginal effects for Table 5 (female workers)
Table 13 Average marginal effects of WLC on employment transitions (female workers): Parsimonious sets of controls
Table 14 Average marginal effects of additional controls as in Table 7 (male workers)
Table 15 Average marginal effects of additional controls as in Table 7 (female workers)
Table 16 Full set of FE estimated coefficients for Table 8

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Angrisani, M., Casanova, M. & Meijer, E. Work-Life Balance and Labor Force Attachment at Older Ages. J Labor Res 41, 34–68 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12122-020-09301-8

Download citation

Keywords

  • Retirement
  • Job characteristic
  • Health shock
  • Gender difference

JEL Classification

  • J26
  • J28