Changing jobs may mean a longer working life

Senior woman working in florist shop

Image: pikselstock/

Individuals who voluntarily change jobs between the ages of 50 and 60 are more likely to be still working at 65 and 67 than those who stay in the job they have at 50. This is a conclusion made in a report from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

And, says the report, it doesn’t matter if the job they changed to was better or worse than the one they left. They still worked longer.

The study focused on four key characteristics between the old job and the new in the areas of earnings, health insurance coverage (the research is based in the US where there’s no universal health cover), stress levels, and physical demands.

The advantages of voluntary change

One of the keys is the word ‘voluntarily’. Involuntary job loss ‘seems to be universally bad for older workers’. They’re less likely to find a new job, more likely to have significantly lower wages than their original job, and are twice as likely to retire earlier.

In contrast, those who choose to change jobs, ‘presumably do so to improve their well-being’. They tend to have lower stress and greater job satisfaction—but usually with a decrease in wages and benefits.

Changing to ‘better’ work

About 45% of those who moved to new jobs had a pay drop of 10% or more. However, 35% moved to jobs that paid at least 10% more. Those less educated (who had high school or lower as their top education level) were more likely to have lower earnings in their new job.

While there may have been less pay, working conditions tended to improve. ‘At least twice as many job-changers . . . moved to a less stressful than to a more stressful job.’ And a greater percentage moved to ‘jobs that were less, rather than more, physically demanding’.

For some reason, the research also discovered that those who missed out on better jobs tended to be males and less-educated workers. The question (not answered) is why would they voluntarily go to a worse job?


The research concludes: ‘The results clearly indicate that a voluntary job change is associated with a large and statistically significant increase in the likelihood of remaining in the labour force to older ages and that this is the case for men and women and for better- and less-educated workers.’

The surprise, as noted, is whether their new job is ‘better’ or ‘worse’, the workers will still retire later.

This research looks at the big picture. You need to make decisions based on your personal situation. Deciding to change jobs to merely stay in the workforce longer is not something to do lightly—and particularly if you enjoy your job.

If you’re thinking of doing this, you need to consider what benefits you may be losing. Or it could be that, in a discussion with your employer, you might be able to make your current job more interesting.

Bruce Manners: the author of Retirement Ready?, Refusing to Retire, and founder of

Category: Working

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