Portrait of Professor Sarah Vickerstaff

Professor Sarah Vickerstaff

Professor of Work and Employment


Professor Sarah Vickerstaff joined the University of Kent in 1984. She completed her PhD in Sociology, passed without revision, at the University of Leeds and her BSc in Sociology with First Class (Honours) at the University of Leicester. She is a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.

In addition to her academic record she has significant managerial and wider HE sector experience. She was Head of the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research at Kent 2012-2016. She is currently the University of Kent lead for Athena SWAN, the gender equality charter. She is also a member of the Strategic Advisory Network of the ESRC and has undertaken grant review work for a range of UK and international organisations including, Nuffield, Leverhulme, the Finnish Academy of Science, the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research. She is an ACAS trained arbitrator. 

Research interests

Professor Vickerstaff’s main research interests are in the changes to the relationship between paid work and the life course, in particular at the beginning and end of working life. She is an internationally recognised Professor and researcher into paid work in later life. In the last 15 years her research on older workers and retirement has been funded by research councils, charities and the UK Government. She recently led an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)/MRC funded research consortium undertaking a mixed method study of: Uncertain Futures: Managing Late Career Transitions and Extended Working Life. She has published 3 books, 5 reports, and in excess of 20 journal articles and many book chapters in this field.

She is just starting a new ESRC funded project with Dr Mariska van der Horst: Internalised and gendered ageism and disableism and its consequences for labour market participation of older workers: a mixed method study (2019-2020). 

For detail of Professor Vickerstaff's research funding, see her CV.


Professor Sarah Vickerstaff's main areas of teaching are qualitative methods and education and training policy.


Professor Vickerstaff has supervised 16 PhDs to completion so far. She is interested in supervising research in the following areas: 

  • The management of older workers and the process of retirement 
  • Older workers experience of working 
  • The domestic context of retirement. 

Her own research is based on qualitative methods, case studies and historical policy analysis and it is research using such methods that she feels best qualified to supervise.  


Professional Memberships

  • Arbitrator, ACAS Panel of Arbitrators
  • Social Policy Association
  • British Sociological Association
  • Association Gerontological Society of America
  • British Society of Gerontology 

Cost Action video

 An AgeingBites video
from The British Society of Gerontology 46th Annual Conference

Think Kent lecture video


Showing 50 of 63 total publications in the Kent Academic Repository. View all publications.


  • Wainwright, D. et al. (2018). Extending working life and the management of change. Is the workplace ready for the ageing worker? Ageing and Society [Online]:1-23. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0144686X18000569.
    Increasing longevity and the strain on state and occupational pensions have brought into question long held assumptions about the age of retirement, and raised the prospect of a workplace populated by ageing workers. In the United Kingdom the default retirement age has gone, incremental increases in state pension age are being implemented, and ageism has been added to workplace anti-discrimination laws. These changes are yet to bring about the anticipated transformation in workplace demographics, but it is coming, making it timely to ask if the workplace is ready for the ageing worker and how the extension of working life will be managed.
    We report findings from qualitative case studies of five large organisations located in the United Kingdom. Interviews and focus groups were conducted with employees, line managers, occupational health staff and human resource managers. Our findings reveal a high degree of uncertainty and ambivalence among workers and managers regarding the desirability and feasibility of extending working life; wide variations in how older workers are managed within workplaces; a gap between policies and practices; and evidence that while casualization might be experienced negatively by younger workers, it may be viewed positively by financially secure older workers seeking flexibility. We conclude with a discussion of the challenges facing employers and policy-makers in making the modern workplace fit for the ageing worker.
  • Phillipson, C. et al. (2018). Uncertain futures: Organisational influences on the transition from work to retirement. Social Policy and Society [Online]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1474746418000180.
    The promotion of extended working life has created a period of uncertainty between the ending of work and the beginning of retirement. This period of the life course is now ‘open-ended’ in respect of whether older workers decide to remain in employment or leave working. However, the choices available are framed within public policy and organizational contexts as well as personal circumstances. The study reviews the organisation of ‘work-ending’, the construction of age within organizations, and the influences on provision of support in late working life. The paper concludes with a discussion on the range of pressures which might limit control over pathways through middle and late working careers.
  • Lain, D. et al. (2018). Understanding older worker precarity: the intersecting domains of jobs, households and the welfare state. Ageing and Society [Online]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0144686X18001253.
    In policy debates it is commonly claimed that older workers are entering a period of choice and control. In contrast, Guy Standing’s (2011) book The Precariat argues that older people are increasingly joining the ‘precariat’, by taking low-level jobs to supplement dwindling pension incomes. We argue that many older workers, not just those in “precarious jobs”, feel a sense of ‘ontological precarity’. Pressures to work longer, combined with limited alternative employment prospects and inadequate retirement incomes, give rise to a heightened sense of precarity. We develop a new theoretical model for understanding precarity as a lived experience, which is influenced by the intersection between precarious jobs, precarious welfare states and precarious households. This model is then illustrated using qualitative research from two UK organisations: Local Government and Hospitality. In both organisations older workers experienced a sense of ontological precarity because they worried about the long-term sustainability of their jobs and saw limited alternative sources of retirement income. Household circumstances either reinforced interviewees’ sense of precarity, or acted as a buffer against it. This was particularly important for women, as they typically accrued smaller financial resources in their own right. Our concluding discussion builds on this more advanced theoretical understanding of older worker precarity to call for a rethinking of state and employer support for decisions around later-life working and retirement.
  • Clark, C. et al. (2017). Impact of childhood and adulthood psychological health on labour force participation and exit in later life. Psychological Medicine [Online] 47:1597-1608. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0033291717000010.
    Adulthood psychological health predicts labour force activity but few studies have examined childhood psychological health. We hypothesized that childhood psychological ill-health would be associated with labour force exit at 55 years.
    Data were from the 55-year follow-up of the National Child Development Study (n = 9137). Labour force participation and exit (unemployment, retirement, permanent sickness, homemaking/other) were self-reported at 55 years. Internalizing and externalizing problems in childhood (7, 11 and 16 years) and malaise in adulthood (23, 33, 42, 50 years) were assessed. Education, social class, periods of unemployment, partnership separations, number of children, and homemaking activity were measured throughout adulthood.
    Childhood internalizing and externalizing problems were associated with unemployment, permanent sickness and homemaking/other at 55 years, after adjustment for adulthood psychological health and education: one or two reports of internalizing was associated with increased risk for unemployment [relative risk (RR) 1.59, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.12–2.25; RR 2.37, 95% CI 1.48–3.79] and permanent sickness (RR 1.32, 95% CI 1.00–1.74; RR, 1.48, 95% CI 1.00–2.17); three reports of externalizing was associated with increased risk for unemployment (RR 2.26, 95% CI 1.01–5.04), permanent sickness (RR 2.63, 95% CI 1.46–4.73) and homemaking/other (RR 1.95, 95% CI 1.00–3.78).
    Psychological ill-health across the lifecourse, including during childhood, reduces the likelihood of working in older age. Support for those with mental health problems at different life stages and for those with limited connections to the labour market, including homemakers, is an essential dimension of attempts to extend working lives.
  • Van der Horst, M. et al. (2017). Gendered late careers in the United States and the United Kingdom: a sequence analysis. Innovation in Aging [Online] 1:678-679. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/geroni/igx004.2418.
    Numerous policy reforms in the 21 century have tried to extend working lives without paying enough attention to the gendered nature of late careers. Combining a life-course approach with sequence analysis techniques, this study empirically explores how gendered are late careers in the United States and the United Kingdom. Drawing on data for the last decade from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and the English Longitudinal Study on Ageing (ELSA), we identify multiple types of labor force sequences. Preliminary results suggest that labor force sequences five years before and after the legal retirement age are more unstable and diverse for women in the United Kingdom. In contrast, labor force sequences for males are similarly stable and homogenous in both countries. We discuss the policy implications of these results for the financial security and health of both females and males in old age.
  • Van der Horst, M. et al. (2017). Gender roles and employment pathways of older women and men in England. Sage Open [Online] 7:1-17. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/2158244017742690.
    In the context of population ageing, the UK government is encouraging people to work longer and delay retirement and it is claimed that many people now make ‘gradual’ transitions from full-time to part-time work to retirement. Part-time employment in older age may, however, be largely due to women working part-time before older age, as per a UK ‘modified male breadwinner’ model. This article therefore separately examines the extent to which men and women make transitions into part-time work in older age, and whether such transitions are influenced by marital status. Following older men and women over a ten-year period using the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, this article presents sequence, cluster, and multinomial logistic regression analyses. Little evidence is found for people moving into part-time work in older age. Typically, women did not work at all or they worked part-time (with some remaining in part-time work and some retiring/exiting from this activity). Consistent with a ‘modified male breadwinner’ logic, marriage was positively related to the likelihood of women belonging to typically ‘female employment pathway clusters’, which mostly consist of part-time work or not being employed. Men were mostly working full-time regardless of marital status. Attempts to extend working lives among older women are therefore likely to be complicated by the influence of traditional gender roles on employment.
  • Fahy, A. et al. (2017). Longtintudinal asscociations of experience of adversity and socioeconomic disadvantage during childhood with labour force participation and exit in later adulthood. Social Science & Medicine [Online] 183:80-87. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.04.023.
    The Extending Working Lives (EWL) agenda seeks to sustain employment up to and beyond traditional retirement ages. This study examined the potential role of childhood factors in shaping labour force participation and exit among older adults, with a view to informing proactive interventions early in the life-course to enhance individuals’ future capacity for extending their working lives. Childhood adversity and socioeconomic disadvantage have previously been linked to ill-health across the life-span and sickness benefit in early adulthood. This study builds upon previous research by examining associations between childhood adversity and self-reported labour force participation among older adults (aged 55). Data was from the National Child Development Study – a prospective cohort of all English, Scottish, & Welsh births in one week in 1958. There was evidence for associations between childhood adversity and increased risk of permanent sickness at 55 years – which were largely sustained after adjustment for educational disengagement and adulthood factors (mental/physical health, qualifications, socioeconomic disadvantage). Specifically, children who were abused or neglected were more likely to be permanently sick at 55 years. In addition, among males, those in care, those experiencing illness in the home, and those experiencing two or more childhood adversities were more likely to be permanently sick at 55 years. Childhood factors were also associated with part-time employment and retirement at 55 years. Severe childhood adversities may represent important distal predictors of labour force exit at 55 years, particularly via permanent sickness. Notably, some adversities show associations among males only, which may inform interventions designed to extend working lives.
  • Van der Horst, M., Shepherd, S. and Vickerstaff, S. (2017). Extending working lives in the UK: Why don't we see more variation? Innovation in Aging [Online] 1:279-279. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/geroni/igx004.1025.
  • Van der Horst, M. et al. (2016). Pathways of Paid Work, Care Provision, and Volunteering in Later Careers: Activity Substitution or Extension? Work, Aging and Retirement [Online]. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/workar/waw028.
    It is well established that what happens to older people in one domain (like paid work) is likely to be related to
    what happens in another domain (like family caring or voluntary work). There is, however, limited research on the
    interplay between multiple activity domains in later careers. Research tends to focus on one domain (such as employment),
    and bring in aspects from other domains (such as volunteering) to explain outcomes. This article instead
    examines the interplay between 3 domains—paid work, care provision, and volunteering—using sequence analyses,
    cluster analyses, and loglinear modeling. It assesses 2 competing perspectives. The role substitution perspective suggests
    people take on activities (such as volunteering) to replace the loss of other activities (such as paid work). The
    role extension perspective alternatively suggests that people that are active in one area are likely to be active in others
    as well. Using the first 6 waves of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), we examine 10-year pathways
    taken by individuals aged 50+ in relation to paid work, care provision, and volunteering. We find little support for
    either view of role substitution or extension. The 3 activity domains were largely independent of each other, suggesting
    that the factors influencing involvement in different combinations of activities are more complex. Nevertheless,
    we found some indicative evidence that part-time work and volunteering were complementary. Gender was important
    for the combination of pathways in paid work and care provision.
  • Phillipson, C., Vickerstaff, S. and Lain, D. (2016). Achieving fuller working lives: labour market and policy issues in the United Kingdom. Australian Journal of Social Issues [Online] 51:187-203. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/j.1839-4655.2016.tb00373.x.
    In the United Kingdom there has been a shift away from policies promoting early retirement towards an emphasis on extended, fuller working lives. This article examines the nature of policy change in this area and prospects for individuals remaining in work longer. Pension ages for men and women are rising rapidly and by 2028 are likely to reach 67 years. Cash benefits for those out of work before state pension age are becoming harder to access and incentives for working beyond 65 are being enhanced. In this context, restrictions have been placed on the use of mandatory retirement ages by employers. Employees have also been granted the right to request flexible employment. However, a lack of coordinated policy up until now means that important challenges exist with regard to extending working lives. Ill?health and low levels of qualifications limit the employment prospects
    of many older people, particularly among those in the poorest segments. Likewise, retention rates of older workers may have improved, but prospects for recruitment in older age remain poor. Policies focusing on the individual have also not yet recognised the extent to which employment in older age is influenced by the household and wider family context.
  • Loretto, W. and Vickerstaff, S. (2015). Gender, age and flexible working in later life. Work, employment and society [Online] 29:233-249. Available at: http://wes.sagepub.com.
    In many countries economic and social concerns associated with ageing populations have focused attention onto flexible forms of working as key to encouraging people to work longer and delay retirement. This article argues that there has been a remarkable lack of attention paid to the role of gender in extending working lives and contends that this gap has arisen because of two, inter-related, oversights: little consideration of relationships between gender and flexible working beyond the child-caring phase of life; and the prevailing tendency to think of end of working life and retirement as gender-neutral or following a typical male trajectory. The findings of a qualitative study of people aged 50+ in the UK challenge some of the key assumptions underpinning the utility of flexible work in extending working lives, and provide insight into the ways in which working in later life is constructed and enacted differently for men and women.
  • Lain, D. and Vickerstaff, S. (2015). National Report United Kingdom. More Years Better Lives [Online]. Available at: http://www.jp-demographic.eu/about/fast-track-projects/understanding-employment.
  • Vickerstaff, S. (2015). Domain: Domestic and Household Factors. More Years Better Lives [Online]. Available at: http://www.jp-demographic.eu/about/fast-track-projects/understanding-employment.
  • Vickerstaff, S., Phillipson, C. and Loretto, W. (2015). Training and Development: The Missing Part of the Extending Working Life Agenda? Public Policy and Aging Report [Online] 25:139-142. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ppar/prv018.
  • Loretto, W., Vickerstaff, S. and Lain, D. (2013). Rethinking Retirement: Changing Realities for Older Workers and Employee Relations? Employee Relations [Online] 35:248-256. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/er.2013.01935caa.001.
  • Lain, D., Vickerstaff, S. and Loretto, W. (2013). Reforming State Pension Provision in ‘Liberal’ Anglo-Saxon Countries: Re-Commodification, Cost-Containment or Recalibration? Social Policy and Society [Online] 12:77-90. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1474746412000450.
    There are good theoretical reasons for expecting pension reform in Anglo-Saxon countries to follow similar paths. Esping-Andersen (1990) famously identified these countries as belonging to the same ‘Liberal’ model of welfare, under which benefits, including pensions, are said to be residual and weakly ‘de-commodifying’, reducing individuals’ reliance on the market to a much lesser degree than elsewhere. Pierson (2001) has furthermore argued that because of path dependency welfare states are likely to follow established paths when dealing with ‘permanent austerity’. Following this logic, Aysan and Beaujot (2009) argue that pension reform in liberal countries has resulted in increasing re-commodification. In this paper, we review pension reforms in the UK, USA, Canada and New Zealand in the 2000s. We argue that because, in reality, the pension systems differed significantly at the point of reform, the paths followed varied considerably in terms of whether they focused on ‘re-commodification’, ‘cost-containment’ or ‘recalibration’.
  • Loretto, W. and Vickerstaff, S. (2013). The domestic and gendered context for retirement. Human Relations [Online] 66:65-86. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0018726712455832.
    Against a global backdrop of population and workforce ageing, successive UK governments have encouraged people to work longer and delay retirement. Debates focus mainly on factors affecting individuals’ decisions on when and how to retire. We argue that a fuller understanding of retirement can be achieved by recognizing the ways in which individuals’ expectations and behaviours reflect a complicated, dynamic set of interactions between domestic environments and gender roles, often established over a long time period, and more temporally proximate factors. Using a qualitative data set, we explore how the timing, nature and meaning of retirement and retirement planning are played out in specific domestic contexts. We conclude that future research and policies surrounding retirement need to: focus on the household, not the individual; consider retirement as an often messy and disrupted process and not a discrete event; and understand that retirement may mean very different things for women and for men.
  • Brown, P. and Vickerstaff, S. (2011). Health Subjectivities and Labor Market Participation: Pessimism and Older Workers’ Attitudes and Narratives Around Retirement. Research on Aging [Online] 33:529-550. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0164027511410249.
    Decisions around retirement and continued labor market participation are of great significance for those who make them, as well as policy makers, researchers, welfare states, and pension programs. The literature acknowledges the multifaceted nature of these choices and particularly the interaction of key variables—job satisfaction, financial status, caring responsibilities, spouse’s plans, and health. This article explores this latter factor, challenging assumptions that it can be treated as an unproblematic independent variable. Analyzing qualitative data from interviews with 96 people approaching or in the midst of retirement, the subjective experience of health and its effect on decisions was strongly evident. The socialized context—as shaped at societal, organizational, household, and individual-life-historical levels—was crucial in understanding how similar symptoms of morbidity resulted in widely varying decisions/outcomes. Direct interpersonal experiences, shaped by social structures, were useful in explaining the prevalence of health pessimism, despite general increases in life expectancy.
  • Vickerstaff, S. (2010). Older Workers: The ‘unavoidable obligation’ of extending our working lives? Sociology Compass [Online] 4:869-879. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1751-9020.2010.00322.x.
    Older workers are becoming an increasing topic of research interest and policy concern as the populations of Europe, the United States and many other countries age. Some commentators argue that living longer means that there will be an ‘unavoidable obligation’ to work for longer as well. This article considers the reasons for concern about an ageing workforce. It then looks at the different literatures, which seek to research and understand the position of older workers. It provides a snapshot of the work that those over 50 years of age in the UK currently do and poses the question of whether we want to work for longer or whether a culture of early retirement prevails. It concludes by arguing for a more fine grained understanding of the composition of the older worker cohort, differentiated by class, gender and race and for more research on flexible work, gradual retirement and managing health at work.
  • Vickerstaff, S. (2007). What do older workers want? Gradual retirement? Social & Public Policy Review [Online] 1. Available at: http://www.uppress.co.uk/socialpolicy_pdf/Vickerstaff.pdf.
    In the context of government concern to raise the participation rates of those over 50 years of age this paper considers whether gradual retirement is a desirable and feasible option for older workers. It provides a review of current patterns of flexible employment in the age group 50+ and considers the views and opinions of older workers in three case study organisations. The paper finishes by considering whether, and in what ways, age discrimination legislation which became law in the autumn of 2006 will facilitate or hinder older workers aspirations. It concludes that the effects of the law are likely to be weak.
  • Vickerstaff, S. (2007). I was just the boy around the place: what made apprenticeships successful? Journal of Vocational Education and Training [Online] 59:331-347. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13636820701520369.
    This article seeks to add to current policy and debate on apprenticeships and youth transitions more widely by reflecting back upon the historical experience of the apprenticeship model. The research comprises in?depth interviews with 30 people who undertook apprenticeships in a range of trades in Great Britain in the period 1944–1982. The discussion focuses upon the socialisation aspects of apprenticeship and concludes that a key feature of good apprenticeships in the post? war period was that they offered a sheltered and extended period in which the young person was able to grow up and become job?ready. Reconstructing the social, industrial, familial and community conditions that made this possible is very difficult in the contemporary period, although further work in oral history has considerable potential.
  • Vickerstaff, S. (2006). 'I'd rather keep running to the end and then jump off the cliff.' Retirement decisions: who decides? Andersson, L. ed. Journal of Social Policy [Online] 35:455-472. Available at: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=449177.
    Government in the UK, as elsewhere in Europe, is keen to encourage individuals to delay their retirement, work for longer and save more for their retirement. This article argues that much of this public discussion is based on the debatable premise that most people are actively choosing to leave work ‘early’. Research on retirement decisions hitherto has concentrated on individual factors, which dispose towards early retirement and has neglected the role of the employer in determining retirement timing. New research reported here, undertaken in three organisational case studies, explores the management of retirement and how individual employees experience these processes. It employs the concepts of the ‘retirement zone’ and retirement scenarios to demonstrate how the interaction of individual attributes (themselves subject to change) and organisational practices (also unpredictable and variable) produces retirement outcomes. It concludes that there is considerable management discretion over the manner and timing of individual retirements. Hence, government needs to recognise that the majority of individuals may have relatively little personal discretion over their departure from work and hence concentration on urging them to work for longer and delay retiring may be missing the real target for policy change.
  • Loretto, W., Vickerstaff, S. and White, P. (2006). Introduction to Themed Section : What do Older Workers Want? Social Policy and Society [Online] 5:479-483. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1474746406003186.
    Across the industrialised nations, the labour market participation of older workers (i.e. those aged 50 and over) continues to attract considerable attention, as the numbers in employment decline and those who are inactive or retired increase (for a 21-country review see OECD, 2006). Against a background of concern over the economic and social implications of low employment rates among the over-50s, much public policy has come to focus on extending the average working life by encouraging people to work for longer and to delay retirement (see, for example, House of Lords, 2003; and on European policy, von Nordeim, 2004).
  • Vickerstaff, S. (2006). Entering the retirement zone: How much choice do individuals have. Social Policy and Society [Online] 5:507-519. Available at: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=468921.
    Traditionally the factors affecting retirement are correlated with individual difference variables such as level of income, health issues and caring responsibilities. Studies have shown how these factors interact to predict the individual retirement process. However, the demand-side factors which structure opportunities for older workers have
    been somewhat less studied. This paper explores the employer role in retirement. By investigating the experience of employees and retirees from three organisations this article demonstrates that the employing organisation’s policies and practices are key to understanding retirement transitions. In the conclusion the impact of forthcoming age discrimination legislation is considered.
  • Vickerstaff, S. and Cox, J. (2005). Retirement and Risk: The Individualisation of Retirement Experiences Andersson, L. ed. Sociological Review [Online] 53:77-95. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-954X.2005.00504.x.
    A climate of uncertainty and risk exists in the field of retirement and pensions. Many employers have modified their pension schemes shifting the financial risk onto employees. Many individuals with private pensions have watched the value of their savings diminish. Added to this, the trend toward early retirement before state pension age has destabilised the traditional life course notion of a fixed retirement age, (especially for men). As a result, the concept of retirement itself has become more unpredictable and difficult to define. In this article we examine the extent of the individualisation of retirement experiences by reference to a study of retirement transitions in two organisations. The research investigated the influences on people's retirement decisions and the extent to which they experienced choice and control over how and when they retired. It is possible to identify a pattern of individualisation in contrast to its opposite of a mass transition into retirement, collectively understood and embedded in formal, institutionalised arrangements. However, underlying this fragmentation of experience there are clear structural patterns. The form that structured individualisation took here, was less to increase the majority of people's range of alternatives and choices over when and how to retire and more to enlarge the range of risks they had to cope with.
  • Vickerstaff, S. (2003). Apprenticeship in the 'golden age': Were youth transitions really smooth and unproblematic back then? Andersson, L. ed. Work Employment & Society [Online] 17:269-287. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0950017003017002003.
    This article challenges the taken-for-granted orthodoxy of contemporary youth studies that young people's transitions from school to work have become extended and fragmented in comparison to those of people who left school in the period 1945-75. It is argued that the characterization of the earlier period as a `golden age' of smooth, unproblematic, one-step transitions from school into the labour market misrepresents the experiences of people in that period and in particular, fails to understand the specificity of the apprenticeship model of transition which was experienced by around 35 percent of the male school-leaving age cohort. The discussion examines the experience of people in the period 1945-75 by reference to 30 interviews undertaken by the author with people who did apprenticeships in a variety of trades.
  • Vickerstaff, S., Cox, J. and Keen, L. (2003). Employers and the management of retirement. Social Policy & Administration [Online] 37:271-287. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/Employers and the management of retirement.
    In the UK early withdrawal from the labour market is seen as a risk and a cost, worsening the
    dependency ratio, raising public and private pension costs and threatening additional welfare
    expenditure over the longer term. Explanations of the retirement process have focused on the welfare
    state and the impact of pensions and other social security policies. This paper argues that a
    missing actor in these accounts is the employing organization. Early retirement in the UK has
    been predominantly driven by the labour requirements of employers rather than state policies to
    encourage older workers to take early retirement. There is a case for arguing that significant change
    in retirement behaviour in the UK will come primarily from the modification of employers’ policies.
    This research is a case study of three employers: one public-sector and two commercial. It examines
    the dynamics of the retirement decision. This paper reports the public-sector case. The findings
    indicate that employers, in order to reduce their pensions liabilities and stem the cost of early
    retirement, are trying to regain control of the retirement process. The employees interviewed felt
    they experienced little choice concerning their retirement, had limited knowledge of the options open
    to them and found pensions complicated and confusing.


  • Vickerstaff, S. et al. (2004). Happy Retirement? The Impact of Employers' Policies and Practice on the Process of Retirement. Bristol, UK: Policy Press.

Book section

  • Loretto, W., Phillipson, C. and Vickerstaff, S. (2017). Skills and Training for the Older Population: Training the New York Generation. in: Warhurst, C. et al. eds. The Oxford Handbook of Skills and Training. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, pp. 615-635. Available at: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/9780199655366.
  • Vickerstaff, S., Phillipson, C. and Wilkie, R. (2011). Work, health and wellbeing: an introduction. in: Vickerstaff, S., Phillipson, C. and Wilkie, R. eds. Work, Health and Well-Being: The Challenges of Managing Health at Work. Bristol: Policy Press. Available at: http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781847428080&sf1=keyword&st1=9781847428080&m=1&dc=1.
  • Vickerstaff, S. (2011). Education, schools, and training. in: Baldock, J. C. et al. eds. Social Policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Available at: http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199570843.do#.
  • Vickerstaff, S. (2011). Work and welfare. in: Baldock, J. C. et al. eds. Social Policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Available at: http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199570843.do#.
  • Vickerstaff, S., Loretto, W. and White, P. (2007). The future for older workers: opportunities and constraints. in: Loretto, W., Vickerstaff, S. and White, P. eds. The future for older workers: New perspectives. Britstol: Policy Press, pp. 203-226.
  • Loretto, W., Vickerstaff, S. and White, P. (2007). Introduction. in: Loretto, W., Vickerstaff, S. and White, P. eds. The future for older workers: New perspectives. Bristol: Policy Press, pp. 1-6.
  • Vickerstaff, S. (2007). Education, schools and training. in: Baldock, J. C., Manning, N. and Vickerstaff, S. eds. Social Policy (3rd ed). Oxford: Oxford University press, pp. 381-406.
  • Vickerstaff, S. (2007). Work and welfare. in: Baldock, J. C., Manning, N. and Vickerstaff, S. eds. Social policy (3rd edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 144-170.
  • Loretto, W., Vickerstaff, S. and White, P. (2007). Flexible Work and Older Workers. in: Loretto, W., Vickerstaff, S. and White, P. eds. The future for older workers: New perspectives. Bristol: Policy Press, pp. 139-160.
  • Vickerstaff, S. (2006). Work and Welfare for Older Workers. in: Spross, C. ed. Beschaftigungsfoderung alterer Arbeitnehmer in Europa. Berlin: Institut IAB, pp. 199-212.
  • Vickerstaff, S. (2006). ‘Life Course, Youth and Old Age’. in: Taylor-Gooby, P. and Zinn, J. O. eds. Risk in social science. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 180-201.
  • Vickerstaff, S. (2005). Learning for Life? The Post War Experience of Apprenticeship. in: Pole, C., Pilcher, J. and Williams, J. eds. Young People in Transition: Becoming Citizens? Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 31-52.

Edited book

  • Leime, A., Street, D. and Vickerstaff, S. (2017). Gender, Ageing and Extended Working Life: Cross National Perspectives. [Online]. Ni Leime, A. et al. eds. Bristol, UK: Policy Press. Available at: http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/G/bo27391459.html.
    As nations worldwide grapple with aging populations and rising social security costs, many have chosen to raise retirement ages. That change is predicated on the assumption that there is appropriate employment available for people who are of an age that in the past would likely have meant they were out of the workforce. This book challenges that assumption, along with the gender-neutral way the issue of retirement age is generally treated. A group of international contributors applies life-course approaches to understanding evolving definitions of work and retirement, the range of transitions from paid work to retirement and how they differ for men, women, and those in different family circumstances and occupations. Drawing on data from Australia, Ireland, Germany, Portugal, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States, the book will be essential reading for researchers and students, and for policy makers who formulate and implement employment and retirement policies.
  • Vickerstaff, S., Phillipson, C. and Wilkie, R. eds. (2011). Work, Health and Well-Being: The Challenges of Managing Health at Work. [Online]. Bristol: Policy Press. Available at: http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781847428080&sf1=keyword&st1=9781847428080&m=1&dc=1.
    The relationship between health and work is widely recognised as complex and multifaceted. In the context of an ageing population our ability to enable people with health issues to continue working is becoming more critical. This multi-disciplinary volume brings together original research from diverse disciplinary backgrounds investigating how we can define and operationalise a bio-psychosocial model of ill-health to improve work participation in middle and later life.
  • Baldock, J.C. et al. eds. (2011). Social Policy. [Online]. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Available at: http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199570843.do#.
    What is social policy, and why are welfare systems important? How have they been affected by the global financial crisis? The fourth edition of this well-respected textbook provides an excellent introduction to social policy in the twenty-first century. Expert contributors examine the development, delivery, and implications of welfare, as well as the social and economic context by which it is shaped. With numerous helpful learning features and an attractive two-colour text design it is an ideal starting point for students new to the subject, and for those looking to take their learning further. The fourth edition includes three new chapters on the history and development of social policy, making social policy in a global context, and how to research and write about social policy. It is up-to-date with the coalition government's social policy agenda, and offers increased coverage of the important issues of equality, gender, ethnicity, migration, globalization and sustainability.
  • Baldock, J.C., Manning, N. and Vickerstaff, S. eds. (2007). Social Policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    The third edition of this well established textbook remains a key book for students of social policy and other sociology related disciplines. Updates to this edition cover Labour's administration (1997 to date), taking into account the commitments made by Labour in their 2005 general election campaign. Each chapter is written by an expert in the field, to provide comprehensive coverage of a wide variety of social policy and welfare issues. All the existing chapters have been thoroughly reviewed and updated to take into account recent changes in British and European social policy. For this edition one new chapter has been added - Globalization and Social Policy. The chapters are written in a non-technical way and are supported by detailed case studies, suggestions for further reading, end-of-chapter questions and a glossary. In addition, the supporting online resource centre provides further material including weblinks, answers to the end-of-chapter questions, and updates.
  • Loretto, W., Vickerstaff, S. and White, P. eds. (2007). The Future for Older Workers: New perspectives. Bristol: Policy Press.
  • Baldock, J.C., Manning, N. and Vickerstaff, S. eds. (2003). Social Policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Research report (external)

  • Vickerstaff, S. et al. (2012). Trust and confidence in pensions: A literature review. [Online]. Department for Work and Pensions. Available at: http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd5/WP108.pdf.
    This working paper presents the findings of a literature review, originally commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in spring 2009, to look at existing research and analysis on trust and confidence, with special reference to pensions. Its main aim was to provide a greater understanding of the concepts of trust and confidence generally, but especially in relation to pensions. In so doing, the review aimed to cover the relationship between trust and confidence and individuals’ attitudes and behaviour around pensions and retirement planning, and issues around measuring trust and confidence in pensions.
    The review aimed to explore in depth the prevalence and nature of trust and confidence, including exploring issues such as:
    • definitions and categories of trust and confidence;
    • what engenders and influences trust and confidence;
    • the nature of the relationship between trust, and attitudes and behaviour towards pensions.
    The review also aimed to explore existing measures of trust and confidence in pensions and to highlight issues that might potentially have some bearing on policies over pensions information and communications, and future research and analysis in this field.
  • Vickerstaff, S. et al. (2009). Employment support for carers. [Online]. Department for Work and Pensions. Available at: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130314010347/http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd5/rports2009-2010/rrep597.pdf.
    This report presents the findings of a qualitative research study, commissioned
    by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in April 2008, to examine and
    understand what employment support is needed for carers in order for them to
    take up and remain in work. Many carers who are not currently working would
    like to do so and the DWP is keen to understand the support they require to
    achieve this.
    The background to the project is the DWP’s aim to promote work as the best form
    of welfare for people of working age by ensuring that work is seen as the best
    way out of poverty, while protecting the position of those in greatest need. This
    summary provides an overview of the research findings and the policy implications
    of the study.
  • Vickerstaff, S. et al. (2008). Encouraging labour market activity among 60-64 year olds. [Online]. Department for Work and Pensions. Available at: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd5/rports2007-2008/rrep531.pdf.
    This research aimed to explore in some detail the attitudes and behaviours of people aged 50-64 towards work and retirement. The principal objective was to better understand what incentives, support or policy development might encourage people, especially those aged 60-64, to extend their working lives by staying in work longer or by returning to work if they had left the labour force.
    The research sought to answer the following questions:

    1 What barriers to working exist for 60-64 year olds; and how personal, structural and cultural factors interact to depress their labour market participation?
    2 What incentives would particularly help working among this age group?
    3 How the labour market opportunities of State Pension Age (SPA) equalisation can be maximised.
    4 How barriers to working might be removed.

    In common with other studies of work and retirement, we found a wide diversity of attitudes, circumstances, behaviours and intentions. Overall there was only limited appetite for extending working lives. A common feature among those who were working after retirement, or those
    who were considering extending their working lives, was a preference for flexible working. Part-time or casual work were the most common forms of flexible working
    in practice. The importance of flexible work opportunities for retaining older workers in the labour market was reinforced.
  • Loretto, W., Vickerstaff, S. and White, P. (2005). Older Workers and Options for Flexible Work. Equal Opportunities Commission.
    The key aims of the review were to find out from the existing body of research:

    * What are the current patterns of employment of older men and older women?
    * What kind of flexible work options do older female and older male workers need, what informs their needs, and what are the barriers - including pension arrangements - to their taking up flexible and part-time work?
    * What would happen to patterns of employment for older women and older men if flexible working were more widely available?
    * What needs to be done to achieve more flexibility for older workers?

    The review consisted of three elements: a comprehensive review of existing literature from governmental and non-governmental sources; secondary analysis of existing datasets, especially the Labour Force Survey; and theme building to identify the key issues associated with older workers, gender and flexible employment.
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