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The end of work or work without end? How people’s beliefs about labour markets shape retirement politics

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 January 2015

Achim Kemmerling*
Department of Public Policy, CEU Budapest, Hungary E-mail:


This article argues that public opinion on retirement is related to people’s causal beliefs about how labour markets work. Whereas voters do not think that there is an employment trade-off between older and younger workers in some European countries, in others, this is a dominant paradigm. When they believe this trade-off exists, people are more hostile to reforms that lead to longer working lives. The article uses Eurobarometer data to investigate the determinants of this belief – for instance, more people being led to believe in such a trade-off under high levels of labour market regulation. The article then goes on to show that this belief is related to policy preferences about early retirement. Finally, the article illustrates the political consequences of this belief and shows that it affects many policy areas even beyond early retirement.

Research Article
© Cambridge University Press, 2015 

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