Tuesday, September 28, 2010


IWS Documented News Service
Institute for Workplace Studies----------------- Professor Samuel B. Bacharach
School of Industrial & Labor Relations-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies
Cornell University
16 East 34th Street, 4th floor----------------------
Stuart Basefsky
New York, NY 10016 -------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau


Korea Labor Institute (KLI)

Issue Paper


Retirement from the Main Lifetime Job and Reemployment *

by Hanam Phang **




[full-text, 16 pages]





  According to Hanam Phang, et al. (2005), the average retirement age at Korean companies is 55, but many are involuntarily leaving work at the average of 53 as a result of such programs as “honorary retirement” or “early retirement.” How long, therefore, do middle-aged and older Korean workers actually spend at their main lifetime job before retirement? Who gets reemployed, how, and through what channels? Moreover, what are the main factors that affect labor mobility (retirement and reemployment) in the later stage of working life, and what is the extent of their impact? In this study, which uses the individual Work History data from the Korea Labor and Income Panel Study (KLIPS), the retirement and reemployment of middle-aged and older workers is analyzed and the policy implications are discussed.


  Most prior studies have been limited to exploring labor market structures and institutional environments that cause job insecurity for middle-aged and older workers, and have paid little attention to the dynamics involved in the official retirement and final retirement of older workers (Unlike in developed countries where retirement from the main lifetime job means retirement from economic activities, in Korea there is a long interval between official retirement (due to the age limit) and final retirement. In this study, the former will be called “official retirement” and the latter “final retirement.” ). Recently there has been active discussion of the life-course approach as an alternative to the economic model whose theoretical framework is the individual’s rational choice between work and leisure. But even this new wave of discussion does not pay enough attention to the characteristics of the main lifetime job and postretirement reemployment of older workers.


  This study is intended to make a contribution that goes beyond prior studies to the theoretical and empirical discussion in the following four areas.


  First, whereas prior studies defined the term main lifetime job using arbitrary criteria, in this study, which uses long-term panel data from the KLIPS, it is defined as the job so designated by the individual from among all the jobs he or she has held until the time of the survey. The study identifies when the individual retired from that particular job and presents model analysis.



* This is a translated version of a paper published in the Monthly Labor Review (KLI, June 2010).

** Senior research fellow, Korea Labor Institute (Email: phang@kli.re.kr).



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Stuart Basefsky                   
Director, IWS News Bureau                
Institute for Workplace Studies 
Cornell/ILR School                        
16 E. 34th Street, 4th Floor             
New York, NY 10016                        
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