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Pathways of Paid Work, Care Provision, and Volunteering in Later Careers: Activity Substitution or Extension?

Lookup NU author(s): Dr David Lain



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


It is well established that what happens to older people in one domain (like paid work) is likely to be related to what happens in another domain (like family caring or voluntary work). There is, however, limited research on the interplay between multiple activity domains in later careers. Research tends to focus on one domain (such as employment), and bring in aspects from other domains (such as volunteering) to explain outcomes. This article instead examines the interplay between 3 domains—paid work, care provision, and volunteering—using sequence analyses, cluster analyses, and loglinear modeling. It assesses 2 competing perspectives. The role substitution perspective suggests people take on activities (such as volunteering) to replace the loss of other activities (such as paid work). The role extension perspective alternatively suggests that people that are active in one area are likely to be active in others as well. Using the first 6 waves of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), we examine 10-year pathways taken by individuals aged 50+ in relation to paid work, care provision, and volunteering. We find little support for either view of role substitution or extension. The 3 activity domains were largely independent of each other, suggesting that the factors influencing involvement in different combinations of activities are more complex. Nevertheless, we found some indicative evidence that part-time work and volunteering were complementary. Gender was important for the combination of pathways in paid work and care provision.

Publication metadata

Author(s): van der Horst M, Vickerstaff S, Lain D, Clark C, Baumberg Geiger B

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Work, Aging and Retirement

Year: 2017

Volume: 3

Issue: 4

Pages: 343-365

Print publication date: 01/10/2017

Online publication date: 07/10/2016

Acceptance date: 01/09/2016

Date deposited: 17/09/2017

ISSN (print): 2054-4642

ISSN (electronic): 2054-4650

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/workar/waw028


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Funder referenceFunder name
Uncertain Futures: Managing Late Career Transitions and Extended Working Life project by the ESRC [ES/L002949/1].