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Postponing job retirement? Psychosocial influences on the preference for early or late retirement

Salvatore Zappalà (University of Bologna, Cesena, Italy)
Marco Depolo (University of Bologna, Cesena, Italy)
Franco Fraccaroli (University of Trento, Rovereto, Italy)
Dina Guglielmi (University of Bologna, Cesena, Italy)
Guido Sarchielli (University of Bologna, Cesena, Italy)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 28 March 2008




The study seeks to investigate individual preference for early or late retirement. The aim is to determine the impact that variables at personal, work and organizational, and retirement‐related levels exert on such preference.


A questionnaire was submitted to 275 Italian workers, aged from 45 to 63. The “preferred” and “expected” retirement ages were measured, and a preference for retiring before or after the expected age was computed. The questionnaire included personal (e.g. age, income), work and organizational (e.g. work importance, job demands and control), and retirement‐related variables (level of information on pensions and attitudes to retirement). Hierarchical multiple regressions analyses were conducted to test the impact of such variables on the preference for early or late retirement.


The results show a significant preference for retiring on average three years before the expected age. The preference for postponing retirement is related to chronological age and perception of income adequacy, but also to work variables (work importance, firm policies supporting aged employees) and attitudes to retirement.

Practical implications

Political and organizational strategies concerning old employees should take into account the widespread preference for early retirement. It is, however, possible to encourage late retirement by developing interventions aiming to meliorate working conditions, organizational perceptions and retirement attitudes.


The difference between preferred and expected retirement age may be useful to identify employees preferring late retirement. It is also suggested that certain psychosocial factors are related to such preference. This knowledge is relevant for European policies encouraging employees to stay longer in the workforce.



Zappalà, S., Depolo, M., Fraccaroli, F., Guglielmi, D. and Sarchielli, G. (2008), "Postponing job retirement? Psychosocial influences on the preference for early or late retirement", Career Development International, Vol. 13 No. 2, pp. 150-167.



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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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