Research Group on Aging and the Life Course (FALL)

Research: ! Pre-retirement


Life in pre-retirement

Funded by the Hans-Böckler-Stiftung, 1986-1988


This study, although concentrated on the German "pre-retirement-law" (1985-1988) and its collective agreement in the German chemical industry, is not restricted on a single historical episode. The pre-retirement legislation has been an important part of the general process of early exit from the labor force, a process which has deeply affected the balance of work life and retirement. The study thus exemplifies the structural change of the life course in a broader sense. The analysis of the pre-retirement scheme allows for a comparative approach to the different ways of regulating the labor market and the age limits, and of their individual and societal outcomes.

The empirical study is based on three methodological steps:

The accomodation of the firms to the pre-retirement regulation, the interests of the industrial actors, and the situation of the older workers are the first focus of the case studies. Furthermore they are necessary to analyze the prerequisites of the individual retirement decision since they shed light on the constraints and alternatives of the individual choices. By combining company and individual data we are able to conceptualize the retirement decision as a process of negotiation. The first part of the mail survey queries the attitudes toward the pre-retirement regulation. A second questionnaire was directed to the respective life-situation of the current "pre-retirees", to the prospective and interested pre-retirees, and to those who refused to participate in the regulation. This combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, in the sense of a "triangulation", increases the validity and reliability of the results and enables a better estimation of their range.

The study examines at the firms´ treatment of older workers as well as their personal experiences and expectations. It not only provides basic knowledge for decisions in the context of social policy and collective bargaining but also contributes to the theoretical interpretation of the early exit trend.


Prof. Dr. Martin Kohli (Director)
Dr. Wolfgang Voges (Researcher)
Beate Mücke (Researcher)
Martina Schürkmann (Researcher)
Claudia Gather (Researcher)
Jürgen Wolf (Researcher)
Harald Künemund (Research assistant)

Main publications

Martin Kohli, Claudia Gather, Harald Künemund, Beate Mücke, Martina Schürkmann, Wolfgang Voges & Jürgen Wolf (1989): Je früher - desto besser? Die Verkürzung des Erwerbslebens am Beispiel des Vorruhestands in der chemischen Industrie. Berlin: Edition Sigma, 1988.

For additional articles see our list of publications.

To the top of this page