The research, carried out by the ESRI on behalf of the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), examined who is most likely to stay in the workforce for longer and who is most likely to leave early. 

The self-employed are the group most likely to work longer. Amongst employees, those in public administration and ‘other administrative’ sectors are most likely to work for longer.

The authors explore differences among early leavers, finding occupational and sectoral differences between those who retire early and those who leave for non-retirement reasons such as illness, care responsibilities and job loss. Manual workers and workers in the construction and retail sectors are more likely to leave for non-retirement reasons. Early leavers from the public sector are more likely to cite retirement reasons. 

The study also identifies the implications for public policy in addressing the needs of an ageing population. The authors suggest a multi-pronged policy response is necessary, including part-time hours and flexible work options, access to training/lifelong learning opportunities, organisational strategies to accommodate those with illness/disability and to rehabilitate those re-entering following an absence.

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