Author's School

Brown School of Social Work

Author's Department/Program

Social Work


English (en)

Date of Award

Summer 8-8-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Nancy Morrow-Howell


Research that examines retirees returning to work--defined here as un-retirement--is important, given increases in life expectancy and retirement insecurity. Unfortunately research in this area is nascent, limited in scope, and riddled with mixed findings. The current study is guided by three research questions:: 1) how do economic resources, as well as human and social capital, relate to un-retirement?;: 2) how do other productive activities, including formal and informal volunteering and caregiving, relate to un-retirement?; and: 3) how does the retirement experience, including reasons to retire and retirement satisfaction, relate to un-retirement? The empirical literature on wealth and its association with un-retirement is mixed, and thus, an exploratory approach is taken. It is hypothesized that other economic resources: income, pension presence, and health insurances) are negatively related to un-retirement; for example, people with lower levels of income are more likely to return to work. It is hypothesized that higher levels of human capital and social capital are positively associated with un-retirement. It is also hypothesized that productive activities both compete with, and complement each other, and it depends on intensity and timing of events. Specifically, volunteering is a positively associated with un-retirement; that is volunteering complements going back to work. It is also suggested that caregiving is a barrier to un-retirement; that is, the two activities compete. It is hypothesized that forced retirement is positively associated with un-retirement. And finally, it is hypothesized that retirement satisfaction is negatively associated with un-retirement.

Data were drawn from the Health and Retirement Study: HRS) which provided a nationally representative sample of fully retired older adults aged 62 and older in 1998: n=8,334). This sample was followed to 2008, which offered a 10-year period to observe factors associated with un-retirement. The fully conditional specification imputation method was used to complete all missing values of the study variables. Survival analysis tested the hypotheses and yielded information on the significant factors associated with un-retirement.

Findings reveal that total household net worth and income were not significantly related to un-retirement. Retirees who possessed a pension: p


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