The role of the social network in early retirement among older Europeans

Howard Litwin, Aviad Tur-Sinai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Drawing upon data from the fourth wave (2010) of the Survey of Health Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), the current analysis used a cross-nationally harmonized, name-generating personal social network inventory to examine the network correlates of early exit from the work force. The sample included all respondents younger than the official retirement age in 16 countries (N = 15,305, of whom 1,104 had retired early). Early retirement status was regressed on a wide range of social network and control variables in a series of hierarchical logistic regressions. The results showed that contact with the most frequently contacted confidant was the strongest of all the network correlates. Network size was also a positive correlate. Those with a recently retired spouse in the network tended more to early retirement, whereas those with a working spouse were less prone to retire early. Exchange was mostly unrelated to early retirement, except for the receipt of financial assistance, which was negatively correlated. The results suggest that one's social network is indeed a key factor in the timing of retirement. The main finding is that intensive and frequent interpersonal contact with one's close social network, especially (but not only) the spouse, is related to early exit from the work force. In our opinion, this implies that the current policy goal of extending working years will require convincing not only older workers of the benefits of working longer, but those who are close to them as well.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)340-349
Number of pages10
JournalWork, Aging and Retirement
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Authors 2015.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Industrial relations
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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