Bridge Employment

Kevin E. Cahill, Michael D. Giandrea and Joseph F. Quinn

in The Oxford Handbook of Retirement

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199746521
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Bridge Employment

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  • Psychology
  • Organizational Psychology
  • Social Psychology


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This chapter focuses on the prevalence, determinants, and outcomes of bridge jobs that follow full-time career employment and precede labor force withdrawal. Since the mid-1980s, the labor force participation rates of older Americans have been rising, reversing a century-long trend toward earlier and earlier retirement among men. A majority of older Americans now stay in the labor force when they leave their career jobs. They retire gradually, in stages. For them, retirement is not a one-time permanent event, but a process. For some, bridge jobs are a quality-of-life choice, a way to remain active and productive, often in a new line of work. For others, they are a financial necessity to augment inadequate retirement resources. We argue that bridge jobs are largely a positive phenomenon for individuals, employers, and the country as a whole. For individuals, continued work increases financial stability in old age and can provide non-pecuniary benefits as well. Employers are able to hire from a larger pool of experienced workers. Finally, the nation benefits from the additional goods and services produced, which somewhat alleviate the economic challenges of an aging population.

Keywords: bridge jobs; economics of aging; retirement trends; partial retirement; gradual retirement

Article.  13173 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Organizational Psychology ; Social Psychology

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