Working after retirement: Features of bridge employment and research directions

Terry A. Beehr, Misty M. Bennett

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

147 Scopus citations

Abstract

The majority of (U.S.) retirees now work for pay after they retire from their major/longer-term job, a phenomenon referred to as bridge employment. Retirement can take many forms, as can bridge employment, which is sometimes considered a form of partial retirement spanning the period from full-time work to full retirement. Although bridge employment has occurred for a long time, its study in the social sciences is relatively new and sparse. The definitions of bridge employment and related constructs (e.g., retirement, career job) are somewhat ambiguous, particularly regarding operational definitions for research purposes. We examine the definition of bridge employment, propose a taxonomy of 16 forms of bridge jobs, and propose several theories that can explain bridge employment or at least some versions or stages of it. Determining predictors of bridge employment is a common issue in bridge employment research. Predictors typically include individual characteristics of older employees and their work situations; we propose a model suggesting that broader societal factors also play a role. Work fulfills both manifest (financial) and latent (psychological) functions for employees, and bridge employment helps fulfill some of the same functions, although research on reactions to bridge employment is rare. Finally, we present a comprehensive model of the bridge employment decision-making process, differentiating between planning, intention, behavior (i.e., taking a bridge job), and adjustment to the bridge job. Multiple research issues and avenues for future research are presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-128
Number of pages17
JournalWork, Aging and Retirement
Volume1
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

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