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Work-life balance of older workers

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By Jorge Uriarte-Landa and Benoît-Paul Hébert

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Achieving a satisfactory balance between work and family can affect the health, productivity and retirement decisions of older workers. This article uses data from the 2005 General Social Survey to examine dissatisfaction with work–life balance among workers age 55 and over, the most commonly reported reasons for dissatisfaction, and the key factors and personal characteristics associated with work–life conflict.

Older workers differ from their younger counterparts in a number of ways: more work part-time, they have a higher rate of self-employment, they are more likely to have a disability, fewer have a postsecondary education, and they are less likely to have children at home. As such, fewer care for children compared with younger workers, but they are more likely to provide elder care.

Overall, 14% of older workers are dissatisfied with their work–life balance, compared with 25% of workers age 25 to 54. Among older workers, the sources of conflict most frequently cited were too much time on the job and too little time for the family.

According to a statistical model, work–life balance dissatisfaction was associated with having a disability, providing elder care, working long hours, occupying a managerial position and being a woman. At the same time, having an employed partner, being self-employed and enjoying one's job reduced the probability of work–life conflict. When the self-selection of older individuals out of employment was taken into account, the risk of work–life conflict did not vary with age.