Skip to main content

Older Workers' Transitions

paid and unpaid work

This study examines the relationship between the availability of one type of flexible work arrangement, time reduction policies (which allow employees to reduce the number of hours worked), and volunteer behavior among older adults. Among married couples, if both the husband and wife had access to policies that would allow them to reduce their hours worked, they are more likely to volunteer in subsequent years. For single respondents and for couples in which only one spouse reported that they could reduce their work hours, the effect on volunteering was not significant. These findings suggest that employer policies that allow older workers to reduce their hours on the job encourage volunteering behavior.

key research questions

  • What types of changes in paid work careers characterize transitions out of the labor force?
  • What types of changes in unpaid work careers characterize transitions out of the labor force?
  • How do changes in unpaid and paid work careers interact?

selected findings

  • Unmarried women are more likely to volunteer than unmarried men (26.3% compared to 18.1%), and among those single-respondents who volunteer, women report a median of 60 hours per year, compared to 50 hours for men.
  • Among married respondents, however, only 12.1% report that both the husband and the wife had time-reduction policies, with an additional 41.8% reporting one spouse had time-reduction policies.
  • 42.6% of married couples with no flexibility volunteered, for an average of 177.7 hours per year. Among married couples in which both the husband and wife had time-reduction policies, 48.0% volunteered, with an average of 200.0 hours per year.




For questions of information regarding the Older Workers’ Transitions project, or to schedule a conversation with any of the Center’s team, please contact:

617-552-9195 |


the older workers’ transitions project team

Tay K. McNamara, PhD
Co-Director of Research, Secondary Data Studies 
Sloan Center on Aging & Work, Boston College