Marie-Ève Dufour, Tania Saba (2018), 11th International Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Conference, Montréal, 16 au 18 août 2018.


Over the past decades, retirement has been redefined from a vision of the end of career employment to a transition process that occurs over a period of time, which may involve moving in and out of employment time to time after officially retiring (Beehr, 1986). This contemporary perspective of retirement fits in the context of the increasing employment rate of workers 55 and over (Saba, 2014), which reached a record high in Canada in 2016. Retirement, intention to continue working, bridge employment or encore career (Boveda et Metz, 2016), older workers opt for different end-of-career trajectories, one of the most common being bridge employment.

Our study is in line with research on the post-career activities of retirees (Zhan et Wang, 2015). Using the life course theory, it aims to better understand early retirement and return to work after retirement through different forms of bridge employment, an aspect that is still not well exploited in previous studies (Beehr, 2014). A questionnaire was administered by mail in 2014 to Francophone retirees in the health-care sector in the province of Quebec (N = 8697), with a response rate of 39.93%.

The results of our empirical study show that almost half of the respondents (45.2%) took advantage of early retirement, and 55.2% either returned or tried to return to work after retirement, on average after 9.56 months spent outside the labor market. The most common forms of paid bridge employment are part-time job (60.1%), contract job (25.9%) and self-employment (13.7%). Various personal and professional factors explain these different end-of-career trajectories, showing that bridge employment seems more of a choice than a financial necessity. These results contribute to the social, scientific and managerial reflection on the end of career, putting into perspective the issue of practices likely to delay retirement, as well as individual end-of-career management.

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