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In Finland, employment among the 60–68-year-olds increased in all educational levels between 2006 and 2018. As a rule, educational inequalities in employment has narrowed, a study by the Finnish Centre for Pensions shows.

The highest employment rate (over 80%) was found in 2018 among 60–62-year-old men and women with a higher tertiary degree. The lowest employment rate (7%) was found among 66–68-year-old women with a primary education.

“Employment increased in all educational levels during the period under study. There is little previous research data on employment and educational inequalities in employment near and beyond the old-age retirement age,” says Senior Researcher Anu Polvinen (Finnish Centre for Pensions). 

Educational inequalities in employment lowest among the 60–62-year-olds

As a rule, educational inequalities in employment narrowed in the age groups 60–62 and 66–68 years during the review period. They remained unchanged among the 63–65-year-olds.

Relative inequalities in employment were the lowest among the 60–62-year-olds, whose employment rate was the highest of all in the studied age group. The highest educational inequalities in employment were found among the 66–68-year-old women, who had the lowest employment rates overall.

The narrowed educational inequalities in employment among the 60–62-year-olds may be due to, for example, a decrease in early exit from the labour market via the disability pension and other exit pathways during the study period. In addition, unemployment among the elderly has declined, which may have improved the employment rate of, in particular, the low-educated.

Educational inequalities in employment considerably stable among the over-63-year-olds

The educational inequalities in employment among the 63–65-year-olds were relatively stable throughout the study period. The highly-educated remain more often in employment for a longer time than the low-educated. Previous studies have also shown educational inequalities in post-retirement working.

Among the 66–68-year-old men, educational inequalities in employment remained quite stable over the study period. Among women, they narrowed. In this age group, the majority has already retired on an old-age pension and work alongside a pension.

Larger educational inequalities in employment among women than men

The educational inequalities in employment appear to be larger among women than men. This may be due to the relatively low employment rate of low-educated women.

“Employment rates have increased quite fast especially among 60–62- and 66–68-year-old women with a secondary and lower tertiary education. This may be one reason why educational inequalities have narrowed especially among women”, Polvinen explains.

Using extensive register data, this study explores relative and absolute educational inequalities in employment of 60–68-year-old men and women over the period 2006–2018. 

Read the research article published in the journal PLOS ONE:
Educational inequalities in employment of Finns aged 60–68 in 2006–2018

Photo: Katri Lehtola

Finnish Centre for Pensions – Central body of and expert on statutory earnings-related pensions